Should Israel Attack in Iran?

If a "bad deal" is to be signed between the P5+1 and Iran, military action might be the last option for Israel. The hurdles: political confrontation with the West, and the possibility that the attack will fail. Special commentary by Amir Rapaport

Paradoxically, the agreement materializing in Lausanne between Iran and the six world powers, P5+1, increases the chance that Israel will have to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.

As of Monday morning, and less than 36 hours before the deadline of the signing of the framework agreement, all parties are eager to sign, especially US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and the Iranians themselves. Israel is frustrated: The official position of the defense establishment and the Prime Minister says that a situation where an agreement is not signed, while the heavy economic sanctions on Iran continue, is preferable over a deal that would make Iran a nuclear threshold state, with the consent of the West and Russia.

It is important to note that within the defense establishment there is also a minority opinion, that the agreement is a "lesser evil" for Israel, because it will help the postponement of Iran's nuclear program, and will be more effective than an aerial attack. However, the position of the majority of defense officials is that the agreement will only result in the continued deterioration in the security situation in the Middle East.

The defense establishment is confident that Iran will violate the understanding with the West, as it has done with past agreements, and sooner or later will announce it has become a nuclear state. The fact that Iran will be allowed to keep 6,000 centrifuges, according to the agreement being formulated, and the fact it continues the development of its ballistic missile programs and its involvement in terrorism throughout the Middle East, will oblige the Arab states considered as moderate to enter into an arms race in an attempt to address the Iranian threat, also directed towards them.

The upcoming agreement may also bring the new government, which will be formed, to take a dramatic decision: whether to accept Iran's transition into a nuclear threshold state or to order the IDF to implement its plans for an attack, prepared throughout the past few years, according to reports.

Here are some reasons that may arise in discussions of the defense establishment as to why should Israel attack after the agreement is signed, and why it should not.

Why should Israel do it?

An Israeli attack would help in maintaining its strategy, which holds that you can not allow any enemy country to have nuclear weapons. Israel conducted two attacks in the past in Iraq and Syria (according to reports), achieved its objectives and halted advanced nuclear programs.

According to the approach supporting an attack, the agreement proves that Israel can rely only on itself, therefore it must attack directly (Air Force) or through accelerated covert sabotage, as professionals estimate that an air strike could delay the Iranian nuclear program by a few years.

Why not?

Unlike the situation in Iraq and Syria, attack on Iran is a move that could run into political and military hurdles. Politically, Israel will have to face the fact that Iran may sign an agreement with the world's six major powers (Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States), so any attack would be considered as Israel challenging them. Militarily, the fact that many nuclear facilities in Iran have been dispersed among many sites and were buried underground, may be an obstacle for Israel's attack capabilities. The fact that any attack would almost certainly lead to a missile war between Israel and Iran and Hezbollah is another consideration that will influence the decision makers.

What is the likely scenario?

It seems that despite Israel's protests, an agreement of understanding with Iran will be signed, in preparations for a permanent agreement that might be signed in June. After signing the agreement, Israel and other Western intelligence officials will make every effort to prove that Iran continues in building its military nuclear program, which may result in the cancellation of the agreement and the forceful renewal of sanctions.

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