Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Order of Operations

Is Israel lining up Iran for a late spring strike to set back Tehran's nuclear program? After Hamas was struck and with Hezbollah the next logical target for suppression, Iran would be the end of line if my pure speculation is close to the mark.

Is Iran running calculations to figure out the yield of bombs they want to build? Maybe. I mean, at some point surely they will do that. Is this leak accurate right now?

Iranian scientists have run computer simulations for a nuclear weapon that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the World War II bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, according to a diagram obtained by The Associated Press.

The diagram was leaked by officials from a country critical of Iran's atomic program to bolster their arguments that Iran's nuclear program must be halted before it produces a weapon. The officials provided the diagram only on condition that they and their country not be named.

This is the same thing that the IAEA reported last year, apparently. If Israel strikes, they want sullen acceptance if not enthusiasm. Spreading the word is a way to get that.

Iran would like to retaliate, including unleashing Hamas and Hezbollah, as a way to deter Israel. Israel took down Hamas' rocket arsenal. Iran is trying to rearm Hamas to restore their role:

Iran is "finding ways to resupply Hamas" with long range rockets and other weapons even after the intense fighting between Hamas and Israel that ended in a cease-fire last week, a senior U.S. official told CNN.

Israel's punitive expedition was always only going to be temporary in its effect. If Israel is looking at Iran, Israel just needs to buy half a year during which Hamas' ability to fire long-range rockets is degraded rather than the four years since the last fight with Hamas. How fast could Iran rearm Hamas with the longer-range rockets?

With Hezbollah apparently eager to put their chin out, Israel could yet get their sequence of knocking Hamas down, then knocking Hezbollah down, and then hitting Iran while Iran's last regional ally, Syria, is still in its death throes, leaving Iran without allies to throw at Israel.

"Crawl, walk, run," as the expression goes. Whether we take part in the last phase--including missile defense--will determine how fast the "run" part is and whether Iran crosses the nuclear finish line any time soon.

I will say that I think President Obama is determined enough to focus on domestic policies that he'd view an attack on Iran that keeps them from going nuclear the next two years as preferable to a full-blown crisis with a nuclear Iran that demands all his attention.

UPDATE: The graph is fairly basic stuff, apparently--and not itself any evidence of a nuclear program. Honestly, it sounds more like something that somebody wanting to prevent an attack on Iran would release if the story is accurate about how ridiculous it is to say this is some type of major evidence.

I'll at least say that it wasn't clear to me it was obviously a smoking gun.

On the other hand, this bolsters a spring timetable:

The United States set a March deadline on Thursday for Iran to start cooperating in substance with a U.N. nuclear agency investigation, warning Tehran the issue may otherwise be referred to the U.N. Security Council.

Of course, that too could be a way to hold Israel off it it is meant to look like progress just as Israel is getting ready to attack.

I freely admit this is a lot of speculation in various directions. I don't know what I don't know.