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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs