News / Middle East

Analysts Assess Impact of Military Attack on Iran

A military truck carrying a Shahab-3 missile drives by during a military parade commemorating the anniversary of the start of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, in Tehran, September 21, 2008. A military truck carrying a Shahab-3 missile drives by during a military parade commemorating the anniversary of the start of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, in Tehran, September 21, 2008.
x
A military truck carrying a Shahab-3 missile drives by during a military parade commemorating the anniversary of the start of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, in Tehran, September 21, 2008.
A military truck carrying a Shahab-3 missile drives by during a military parade commemorating the anniversary of the start of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, in Tehran, September 21, 2008.
The United States and the European Union believe Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran says its program is for peaceful, civilian purposes.

The international community has been trying for years to persuade Iran to end its uranium-enrichment program, but to no avail.  Low-enriched uranium can be used for civilian nuclear-power plants, but highly enriched uranium is an integral part of a nuclear bomb.

In an effort to pressure Tehran to end its enrichment program, the U.N. Security Council has imposed sanctions on Iran.  And several individual nations, such as the United States, have imposed their own measures, for example targeting Tehran’s oil industry and financial sector.

In addition, two rounds of international negotiations held this year failed to yield any progress.  But some analysts believe there may be a chance for movement with the election of moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani as Iran’s new president.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, said the international community must not engage in what he called “wishful thinking” about Iran’s leadership.

Iran Seen as an Existential Threat to Israel

Israel considers a nuclear armed Iran to be an existential threat.  And it has hinted that it is capable of carrying out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities to make sure Iran does not build a bomb.

Paul Rogers, a military analyst at Bradford University in England, northeast of Manchester, said the Israelis are faced with a difficult task.

“The Iranians have been quite dedicated in recent years in putting a proportion of their nuclear facilities quite deep underground, probably too deep for the Israelis to hi,” said Rogers.  “The U.S. Air Force does now have a very powerful new deep bunker buster, but there is no indication that it is willing to give that to Israel. It has given other, medium-level bunker busters to Israel, but not the really powerful one, the 'Massive Earth Penetrator.’”

Thomas Hammes, a military expert at the National Defense University, said the Iranian targets must be well defined.

“This makes the huge assumption that we know where these facilities are," he said.  "Remember, we invaded Iraq because we were sure there were weapons of mass destruction there and we knew exactly where some of them were.  And we were right zero percent of the time.”

Hammes asks if the U.S. intelligence capability has improved so much in the last 10 years?

Attack on Iran May be Counter-productive

Former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, whose foreign posts included Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria, said if there is going to be any military action, it must be successful.

“The only thing worse than an Iran with nuclear weapons would be an Iran with nuclear weapons that one or more countries attempted to prevent them from obtaining by military strikes - and failed,” he said.

Jim Walsh, an expert on Iran’s nuclear program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said military action against Iran might be counter-productive.

“I fear that a military strike will produce the very thing you are trying to avoid, which is the Iranian government would meet the day after the attack and say: ‘Oh yeah, we’ll show you - we are going to build a nuclear weapon,’" he said.  "I think we will get a weapon’s decision following an attack, which is the last thing we want to produce right now.”

Is a Nuclear-armed Iran Unacceptable?

Many governments, and analysts, say a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable.

But Thomas Hammess at the National Defense University takes another view.

“We certainly lived with a nuclear-armed Soviet Union for a long time.  We are currently living, perhaps, with a nuclear-armed North Korea and we are with a nuclear-armed China,” said Hammess.  “So the presence of nuclear arms does not necessarily mean you can’t live with or operate with a country.  I don’t understand what makes Iran so much more dangerous with a nuclear weapon.”

Hammess said if Iran ever manufactures nuclear weapons and decides to use them, Israel will probably destroy that country.  If not Israel, says Hammess, then the United States probably will.

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid