On Nov. 29, 2010, motorcyclists blew up the cars of two senior figures in the Iranian nuclear project, Majid Shahriari and Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani. The motorcyclists attached magnet bombs to the cars and then sped away. Shahriari was killed by the blast but Abbassi-Davani, although injured, managed to escape with his wife before his car exploded. This attack prompted the Time Magazine 11/30/2010 article “Is the Mossad Targeting Iran’s Nuclear Scientists?”
In July 2011, a motorcyclist ambushed Darioush Rezaei Nejad, a nuclear physicist and a researcher for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, shooting him as he sat in his car outside of his house.
In November 2011, a huge explosion occurred at a Revolutionary Guards base 30 miles west of Tehran. Satellite photos showed that almost the entire base was obliterated. Brig. Gen. Hassan Moghaddam, head of the Revolutionary Guards’ missile-development division, was killed, along with 16 of his personnel. This was the military base where the long-range (10,000 km) missiles were being developed for deployment against the Western Hemisphere. Israeli experts suggest that it was a “work accident” resulting from improperly handled munitions.
And this “work accident” was soon followed by “Duqu” (aka “son of ‘Stuxnet’”), a cyber-weapon which invaded Iranian nuclear facility computers in December 2011, and created secret “back doors” so that the computer programs could be seized and manipulated later to alter networks, create destructive programs, or even destroy the entire networks themselves.
On Jan. 11, 2012, Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, a deputy director at the Natanz uranium-enrichment facility, was killed when motorcyclists attached a magnet bomb to his car, in downtown Tehran. Some find these assassinations reprehensible, others acknowledge the need to do what it takes to stop Iran from becoming the world’s next nuclear enemy.
Current assessments suggest that Iran will not be able to manufacture a deployable nuclear weapon before 2015, thanks in large part to the clandestine efforts summarized above.2
But even these successful covert operations, and perhaps another Stuxnet somewhere in the offing, cannot succeed forever, and at best they merely slow the progress of the current Iranian government, so ferociously committed to nuclear confrontation with the Sunni world and the West. So this approach, successful though it has been, is just a different iteration of kicking the can down the road. Even combined with the most stringent of sanctions, it only pushes the problem further into the not-too-distant future.
But there is a way, and it may be the only way, to achieve a long-term resolution to the Iranian nuclear threat: regime change. Iranian anti-Mullah sources, inside Iran and abroad, suggest that the Iranian people are ready for a more pro-Western regime to replace the Mullahs. The MEK (People’s Mujahedin of Iran) believe that such a change could occur within one year, and some Israeli leaders concur.
But instead of supporting regime change from within, Obama has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. When Obama turned a blind eye to the massacre of unarmed protesters in Iran in 2009, he supported the Mullahs and encouraged their quest for WMDs. When he turned a blind eye to the massacre of unarmed protesters in Syria, ongoing since early 2011, he handed Iran another victory by allowing the Iranian puppet government in Syria to prolong its stay in power, and thus to serve Iran’s interests, support Hezbollah and maintain proxy control over Lebanon.
Now Obama is trying to pressure Israel to commit to not mounting a conventional weapons bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.3 Is that because he wants the blame to settle squarely on Israel, and Israel alone, if Israel does bomb Iran, so that his hands can be clean, prior to November 2012, of any blame for whatever catastrophes such an attack might cause; or is it because Obama really believes that a nuclear Iran will be better for the world’s health?
In either case, Israel does not trust Obama, and is not bowing to his pressure. But neither is Israel about to launch a conventional bombing attack on Iran. Israel’s clandestine attacks have successfully delayed Iran’s nuclear ambition for at least several years into the future: plenty of time for regime change, in Iran or in the USA in November 2012.
1. Except as otherwise noted, the summary list which follows utilizes material from Ronen Bergman’s “Will Israel attack Iran?” New York Times, January 25, 2012 at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/magazine/will-israel-attack-iran.html?_r=3&pagewanted=all; and http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iran/nuke3.htm.
2. For assessments see: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iran/nuclear_program/index.html; and http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/08/world/middleeast/08israel.html; and http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/07/us-iran-nuclear-israel-idUSTRE70612X20110107; and http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/outgoing-mossad-chief-iran-won-t-have-nuclear-capability-before-2015-1.335656; inter alia.
3. For examples see: http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/02/panetta-believes-israel-could-strike-iran-this-spring/; and http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2106071,00.html; and http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/02/02/west-making-case-to-israel-dont-attack-iran/; and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2095799/West-scrambles-avoid-Israeli-attack-Iran-come-months.html; inter alia.
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