Defense Secy Gates leaks details of Israel Air Force tactics against Iran's nuclear weapons

Israel-based analyst, DebkaFile reports on an alleged Pentagon role in leaking details of the Israel Defense Force's (IDF's) tactical preparations for destroying Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities.

US Pentagon sources report that more than 100 Air Force F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the maneuver over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece in the first week of June. The maneuver included helicopters used for rescuing downed pilots and refueling tankers. They flew 1,440 km, roughly the distance between Israel and the Iranian uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.

Israel officials declined to comment on the exercise, the IDF saying only that the air force trains regularly for various missions in order to meet the challenges posed by the threats facing Israel. Israel must be ready for a possible war with Iran in the near future. This conflict could erupt on three additional fronts, Syria, Hezballah and Hamas.

Of interest, too, is the probable motive behind the US Defense Department’s leak to the world media of the Israel Air Force maneuver and its presentation as an exercise to simulate an attack on Iran.

According to DEBKAfile’s informants, US defense secretary Robert Gates is adamantly opposed to American military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities and even more so to Israel going it alone, which this publicity was intended to pre-empt.

Why? Is the Bush administration, fresh from promising their defense support at the Knesset just weeks ago, concerned about perceived Republican political liability for providing Iraqi airspace to Israeli jets prior to Election Day? Or are they hoping to leave a clean record until the Bush regime has departed the White House, thwarting the Israelis until the next administration in late January? Any other ideas?

Update: Uproar, military alerts, oil price surge over apparent Israeli air drill for Iran attack June 21, 2008, 1:12 AM (GMT+02:00)

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that an oil price surge of 5 percent to $135.92 was triggered by the report leaked by US government officials of an Israeli air force drill over Greece for an apparent strike against Iran, Friday, June 20. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered a war alert in the Revolutionary Guards and armed forces, with the Israeli and US Gulf forces following suit.
Tehran made no immediate comment, while Iranian leaders were reported puzzled by the Bush administration’s motives in leaking the report to the New York Times.

The most extreme reaction came from the UN nuclear watchdog’s director Mohamad ElBaradei, who threatened to resign if there was a military strike on Iran, warning such an attack would turn the region into a “fireball.”

“A military strike would be worse than anything possible,” he warned. “..it will mean that Iran, if it is not already making nuclear weapons, will launch a crash course to build them…”

Russian foreign minister Sergei Ivanov maintained that neither Israel nor the United States had produced proof that Iran was developing nuclear weapons and said the issue must be dealt with by diplomacy and talks with Tehran.

The American UN ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad agreed. While stating the view that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would be “unacceptable,” he stressed:
"We're in the phase of diplomacy; we want a diplomatic settlement of this issue. The ball is frankly in Iran's court."

DEBKAfile’s political sources comment that if a reported air maneuver simulating an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities raised so much international, financial and military dust, how much more extreme would the world response be to a real attack.

The Greek Air force confirmed its participation in the Israeli military exercise held three weeks ago, but did not confirm the claim by Washington officials that it was a rehearsal for a potential attack on Iran. The Greek source stated no ground targets were involved as the drill was mainly aimed at personnel training. It was the first large-scale exercise between Israel and the air force of Greece, a member of NATO.

UP to 40 Israeli Air force F-15 and F-16 warplanes were based at the Greek Air Force Station at Souda on the southern Mediterranean island of Crete for the duration of the exercise, said the source.

1 comment:

  1. Israel on the Iran Brink
    June 23, 2008; Wall St. Journal Online Page A16

    ... Mr. ElBaradei predicted this weekend that such an attack would turn the Middle East into a "ball of fire," yet his own apologies for Iran and the West's diplomatic failures are responsible for bringing the region to this pass. They have convinced the mullahs that the powers responsible for maintaining world order lack the will to stop Iran.

    Israelis surely don't welcome a war in which they will suffer. Yet they have no choice but to defend themselves against an enemy that vows to obliterate them if Iran acquires the weapon to do so. The tragic paradox of the past six years is that the diplomatic and intelligence evasions offered in the name of avoiding war with Iran have done the most to bring us close to this brink. Appeasement that ends in war is a familiar theme of history.

    (Read entire article by clicking on wall st. journal name.)