DEBKAfile Reports: Most members of Israeli defense cabinet favor independent action against nuclearized Iran - despite US intelligence reassessment
The special defense and foreign affairs cabinet meeting of Dec. 12 did not linger on the dispute between Israel and the US over its last National Intelligence Estimate, which absolves Iran from running a nuclear weapons program from 2003. After briefings from intelligence chiefs, the ministers focused on what to do next. Most objected to letting Israel’s hands be tied by the Bush administration’s apparent waiver of its military option against Iran.
They began exploring how to restructure and reorient the missions of Israel’s military from now on and, secondly, how to adapt the IDF’s strategy to the challenges on its multiple fronts - Syria, Lebanon, Hizballah and the Gaza Strip’s Palestinian terror groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad - in the light of the emerging understanding among the US, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that, if Israel ultimately decides not to go through with pre-emptive action against Iran’s military nuclear program on its own, it will have to write off a six-year program estimated at having cost more than $3 billon. The special resources developed in coordination with the US would in other times have augmented Israel’s military capabilities. Now, a huge conversion project is required to meet Israel’s current short-range security threats – active from the Gaza Strip and realistic from Lebanon and Syria.
Our military sources disclose that decisions will have to be taken regarding the disposition of the special military mechanisms Israel created to deal with a long-distance Iranian nuclear threat.
1. The Air Force air units trained and refueling facilities designed for remote operations.
2. The special operations units trained to operate independently in arenas far distant from home base.
3. The Dolphin submarine fleet customized to spearhead a strike against Iran and be the backbone of Israel’s second-strike option against Iran, in the event of an Iranian missile or nuclear attack.
4. The large-scale production of a new generation of surface missiles which began immediately after the 2006 war with Hizballah.
5. The military spy satellites and other surveillance capabilities developed for remote missions.
6. The program for developing anti-missile missiles. Until now Israel focused on developing, building and acquiring anti-missile systems as a shield against ballistic missiles, at the expense of neglecting the short-range missile threat. The security cabinet must now decide whether to stick to this program or adapt it to reshuffled national security priorities.