Israel getting ready to “go it alone” on Iran

Israel is taking serious steps to ensure that it’s well prepared in the event of a possible war with Iran. The Jewish state has bought two German-made nuclear-capable submarines, and Israel’s army chief, Dan Halutz, appointed a top officer to be a “campaign manager” for Tehran.

The Dolphin submarines, called U212s, can remain underwater for long periods of time, have a range of 4,500 km and can launch cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheads, according to Jane’s Defense Weekly.

 The U212s can also allow Israel to carry out a first strike at the time it chooses and provide it with crucial second-strike capabilities, said Paul Beaver, a London-based independent defense analyst.

 The Dolphin submarine is one of the best deterrents, Beaver said, adding that the technology on the subs makes them undetectable and gives them defensive capabilities in the event of an attack. “They are very well-built, very well-prepared, lots of interesting equipment, one of the best conventional submarines available,” he added. 

 With the purchase of the two submarines, military experts believe that Israel is sending a clear message to Iran that it can strike back.

 The move comes amid growing international pressure on Iran over its nuclear program. Israel, believed to have the world’s sixth-largest stockpile of atomic arms, accuses Iran of using its nuclear program as a cover for building an atomic bomb. But Tehran, which unlike Israel is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), insists that its nuclear program is for the peaceful generation of electricity. 

 David Menashri, an Israeli expert on Iran, claimed that Tehran is “determined” to obtain nuclear weapons and “the purchase of additional Dolphin submarines by Israel is a small footnote in this context.”

 Meanwhile, Israel’s Haaretz daily reported that Israeli army chief of staff Dan Halutz appointed a top Israeli officer to be in charge of preparing a possible war with Iran.

 Air Force Commander Eliezer Shkedy will act as “GOC Iran Command” (commanding officer), will be responsible for all conflicts with countries “not bordering Israel”, which effectively means Iraq and Iran, Harretz quoted security officials as saying.

 Shkedy will be tasked with preparing battle plans and managing Israel’s armed forces in the event of war, the officials said, adding that he will be the “orchestra conductor” but will coordinate with the Mossad and Military Intelligence, and with the IDF’s various operational branches.

 An army spokeswoman didn’t confirm or deny the report, saying that the military does not disclose information on its operational tactics.

 Haaretz pointed out that the appointment was made before Israel launched its offensive in Lebanon, which, according to Dan Halutz, exposed shortcomings in the army’s performance, and has led many Israelis to question their government’s preparedness for engaging in military conflicts.

 An official told the newspaper that the appointment was an implementation of lessons learnt from the 1991 Gulf War, during which the Israeli army didn’t have a “campaign manager” for Iraq. Instead, the Israel Air Force, the ground forces and the intelligence agencies each operated on their own without having a single coordinator linking them.

 The recent reports came after Iran offered to engage in “serious talks” with Western powers as it delivered its response to a package of incentives aimed at halting its nuclear program.

 But the Iranian offer has drawn a cool response from the U.S., the only Western state that didn’t rule out military action, which said that it will consider the threat of sanctions because Tehran’s offer “falls short of the conditions set by the Security Council”, which demand the full suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities by the end of August.

 Earlier this week, Israeli Minister of Pensioner Affairs Rafi Eitan warned on Israel Radio: “We are liable to face an Iranian missile attack. The Iranians have said very clearly that if they come under attack, their primary target would be Israel.”

 Analysts said that Eitan was referring to speculation that Iran’s ongoing refusal to meet Western demands could result in a U.S. military action. 

 However, a top Israeli official told the Jerusalem Post that Israel is convinced that a U.S. strike on Iran’s nuclear sites, which he said must happen within months, will not materialize.

 This, he said, leaves economic and political sanctions as the only way to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

 If things continue like this for much longer, Israel would be compelled to “go it alone”, another Israeli official told the Post.

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