Iranian Pre-Nuclear Threat
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Iranian Official: 'Iran Will Attack Tel Aviv & U.S. Fleet In the Gulf, If Israel Or U.S. Launch Raid On Iran'
Menashe Amir: 'Iran's Air Force & Navy Lack Military Capability To Inflict Serious Damage In The Gulf. Iran's Missile Force Does Not Pose Serious Danger to Israel'
'Iranian Regime Fears Popular Uprising In Event Of Israeli Or U.S. Operation Against Nuclear Sites'
Iranian military forces are conducting fresh maneuvers amid threats that Iran will attack Israel's biggest metropolitan area of Tel Aviv and the U.S fleet in the Gulf, if Israel or the U.S. launch a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear sites. Just how strong militarily is Iran today? In the second of a two-part interview with IsraCast, analyst Menashe Amir assesses the Iranian conventional weapons threat.
Question: What has been the reaction of the Iranian regime and people to the recent Israel Air Force exercise that simulated a strike on Iran's nuclear installations?
Menashe Amir: 'I think is was viewed as the strongest Israeli message so far. After the Iraqi and Syrian precedents (Israel bombed nuclear reactors being built in those countries), it signaled that if Israel is left on its own, and no one is ready to help, then Israel will carry out the mission itself. This has been understood in Iran and that is why there have been so many unprecedented reactions and threats from the entire regime'.
'As for the Iranian people, they are very worried about a potential war. For example, recent rumors that Israel is going to bomb the Bushehr nuclear reactor has caused real estate prices in that area to drop by 50%. Their greatest concern is whether Israel or the U.S. will limit their attacks to nuclear and military targets, or whether they will also hit economic sites. If the attacks were limited to nuclear and military targets, I think the Iranian people might even support this action'.
'There is also concern in the Iranian regime that an Israeli attack could trigger a popular uprising and that the people might take to the streets, demonstrating against the regime. A week ago, there was a very significant development in Iranian military circles. They divided the country into 31 military regions. Each of these districts was assigned an independent military unit of the Revolutionary Guards to do whatever was necessary, without receiving any orders from the Tehran headquarters, to neutralize any popular uprising. This shows how concerned the regime is'.
Question: I recently heard from a non-governmental Israeli expert that the current Iranian military is not all that strong. For example, Iran's current missiles could not cause that much damage to Israel, nor is their air force all that strong. How do you evaluate Iran's military power at present?
Amir: 'I very much support this assessment. I think the Iranian Air Force is very weak. Its commander has now called for a renovation and to acquire new equipment and aircraft. It is equipped with outdated planes, like old American F-14s and F-4s and 5s as well as outmoded Russian and Chinese aircraft such as Mig-29s and some other obsolete planes. They are not equipped with the electronic equipment of Israeli and American aircraft and do not have the capability to carry out any serious military strikes against Saudi Arabia or in the Gulf and certainly not against Israeli or American aircraft in the region.'
Menashe Amir is an Israeli expert on Iran and Arab Affairs, formerly head of the Israel Broadcasting Authority's Persian language division and the chief editor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Persian language website.
'The Iranian navy is also very weak but with one strong point. They have thousands of small speedboats, but I think the U.S. fleet in the Gulf could find a solution using attack helicopters and light aircraft. These speedboats could be hit from the air preventing them from reaching the U.S. vessels in the Gulf. '
'There are two things that greatly concern Israel. The Iranians have Shihab and other type missiles that carry a one thousand kilos of explosives. But they are not more dangerous than SCUD B missiles that were launched at Israel in the past. They can cause only minor damage and are not that serious. As for the Syrians, I believe they are too wise to get involved in an armed conflict between Iran on one side and Israel or the U.S. on the other. Hamas in the Gaza Strip is a different story. They have done and will do whatever they can by launching their Qassam rockets at Israel. There is only one unsolved problem for Israel and that is Hezbollah in south Lebanon where they do pose a danger their masses of rockets and missiles. But its conceivable the Israel Defense Forces have found solutions to cope with Hezbollah and prevent them from rocketing Israel as they did in the Second Lebanon War, two years ago'.
'To summarize, and I have not discussed Iraq, Afghanistan or the Iranian terror groups, which I do not think is an solvable monster - I do not believe that Iran poses at present such a real threat as some Western experts think'.
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