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Iran conducts test launches of its long-range Shahab-3 missiles, in 2008.

If Israel misses its window of opportunity to act, such a lapse would violate a central tenet of its own defense doctrine — that Israel cannot depend on any external power to deal with existential security threats — thereby making that option unthinkable. Once Israeli intelligence agencies and senior military command levels conclude that the clock has struck one minute to midnight, no amount of pressure from allies will succeed in dissuading it from acting in self-preservation.

A military strike would not be a goal in itself, as Iran could go right back to reactivating its program, but it would be a last resort designed to accomplish what years of talks could not: to push Iran back from the nuclear brink.

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Israel’s strike capabilities remain a closely guarded secret, but according to international media reports, the Israel Air Force has more than 100 F15i and F16i fighter jets that can fly to Iran and return without the need to refuel, as well as, for other jets, advanced midair refueling capabilities that would allow them to strike multiple Iranian targets. According to the reports, Israel also possesses long-range Jericho ground-to-ground missiles.

Any strike, moreover, would be unimaginable without the Israel Defense Force’s advanced electronic warfare units.

In the event that Iran orders its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah to retaliate with tens of thousands of rockets and missiles on the Israeli home front, Israel could respond with devastating air force strikes using new weapons systems, and a lightning ground invasion of southern Lebanon to extinguish quickly the rocket attacks and leave Hezbollah on the ropes.

No one in Israel seeks war, and few dispute that a diplomatic solution that can really freeze the threat from Tehran is the most desired outcome.

But so far, beyond empty gestures, Iran has given no indication that it is prepared to give up its program, and time is running out.

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Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane's Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.

8 COMMENTS

  1. the author is 100% right…when Iran builds up fortress across the nuclear plants by dragging the talks, it would be difficult for the isrealites to destroy them…Israelites has to stand on their own…atlast Israeli PM understood that the GAY country will not support them…as they have lost the sense and elected the weakest President in the history

  2. Most likely, Israel will have to do what it has always done, go it alone. The reaction will be the same from the rest of the world, righteous indignation. Just like the incident in Iraq, years later people will understand Israel was right. Although, the way Netanyahu has been acting lately, he may just let Iran continue to negotiate it's way to nuclear capability. Choices have consequenses.

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