The Problem of Drug Use and Abuse

Introduction

Predictive Questions to be Pursued

In general, this paper will explore what will happen to the state of Israel in the near term. More specifically, given the early signals from the Obama administration, this paper delves into How will any kind of rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran affect the national security of Israel in the next four years?

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Background

Close to 61 years after millennia of the Jewish “diaspora” came to a close with the official re-establishment of the Jewish homeland on May 14, 1948, the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign nation has been accepted by no less than 161 nations, including former belligerents Egypt, Jordan, and nine non-Arab Muslim states.

The physical security of the nation, however, remains untenable. For the price of official peace and diplomatic recognition was the return of all territories won in the war of 1967. Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza has not stopped a rain of rockets from these territories, as well as from Hamas-led Lebanon. Whence this supply of Katyusha-type rockets obtained by an impoverished people? Iran is among those accused of backing rhetoric about wiping out the Jewish nation with the surreptitious supply of rockets.

Owing partly to the bitter lessons of the Holocaust, mutual interests and many shared historic, cultural and religious ties, the United States has been the steadiest supporter of Israel since 1948. A free trade agreement has been in existence since 1985, Israeli company stocks are traded on U.S. exchanges, America is that country’s largest trading partner, supplier of military hardware and financial assistance.

This special relationship between the two nations and repeated U.S. assurances about minimizing the risks of concessions Israel makes in what is now a two-state territory west of the Jordan has not been without inconsistency, full-blown debate and outright estrangement. In the aftermath of the latest punitive incursion into Gaza, for instance, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton weighed in with criticism over Israel being slow to help with reconstructing damaged buildings in Gaza. The U.S. government plans to donate $900 million for the purpose.

And among the first significant Middle East foreign policy initiatives of the Obama presidency was the widely-noted greeting by the President to the Iranian people over YouTube on the occasion of Nowruz, that nation’s New Year. Meant to thaw out decades of confrontation and brinksmanship that characterized relations between the United States and Iran, as well as reduce tensions in the region, the greeting met with an official rebuff that resembled a negotiating gambit.

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The question now is, what can systematic and predictive intelligence analysis conclude about how the national security of Israel might be enhanced or degraded by the interplay of personalities and policies the nation has little control over?

Literature Review

What is Known?

Israel is a small, arid but highly-developed country bordered by Egypt and the Gaza Strip to the south; the West Bank and Jordan to the east; Syria and Lebanon to the north; and the eastern Mediterranean on the west (see Fig. 1).

Current Borders

Figure 1: Current Borders

The 1947 UN Plan for the Partition of Palestine (Resolution 181)
Figure 2: The 1947 UN Plan for the Partition of Palestine (Resolution 181)

The modern revival of the nation commenced on May 14, 1948 when the mandate over Palestine given by the League of Nations to the U.K. expired. Simultaneously, the Jewish refugees from pre-war European persecution, the Holocaust and the post-war devastation of Europe switched from fighting the British to confronting the erstwhile Palestinian natives. Seven months previously, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181 that proposed a ragged delineation between the emergent Jewish state and an Arab state (see Figure 2). The day after the declaration of independence, however, regular Arab armies from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Saudi Arabia attacked (Naor, 2008). Fighting lasted until March 1949, at which time, the country had contiguous borders distinctly more advantageous than envisioned by the UN partition plan.

Israel Boundaries After the Cease fire
Figure 3: Israel Boundaries After the Cease fire

In three subsequent wars (1956, 1967 and 1973), neither the Arab League nor the Pan-Arab coalition succeeded in defeating the Israeli Defense Force in the field. In time, peace treaties were signed with the belligerent nations and the conflict narrowed to that between Israel and the Palestinians both within and around its borders. As at the tail-end of the Ottoman Empire, Jewish immigrants were once again contesting control and legitimacy with Palestinians.

Why is this topic important?

The conflict revolves on what seems intractable claims to ownership that go back millennia in the case of the Jewish people. Just as important, perhaps, is that the Western powers had been heavily involved in the remnants of the Ottoman Empire and retain vital economic interests in the entire Middle East region until today. And in the recent past, the EU and the United States have been wary of Iran becoming the second nuclear power in the region.

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The Allies who had won World War I distributed the mandates for the Middle Eastern territories of the Ottomans. Among the agreements was for the British mandate to eventually see to an independent Arab nation that included Syria, a promise made by Lawrence of Arabia to the Hashemites in return for support against the Ottomans (and Germans) in World War I (League of Nations, 1922). However, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 also committed Britain to support a “Jewish National Home” in the region (Hamilton, 2004). The dominant outlook in the years between the two world wars was for a Palestine where Jews would be a minority but the Peel Commission report of 1937 was the first to formally recommend a two-state solution. With Jews already present in the territory, the British set strict annual quotas for Jewish immigration from 1940 to 1947, when the Mandate would expire. Given the inadequate yearly quota of 10,000 while hundreds of thousands of Jews were displaced by persecution in Europe, the Jewish underground battled the British and assisted in wholesale “illegal” immigration.

In the aftermath of World War II, when the truth about the Holocaust became known, the victorious Allies could not themselves agree about both increased immigration for Jewish refugees and a homeland, separate or not. At issue was humanitarian consideration for an immediate influx of 100,000 new Jewish immigrants, with likely consequence of an Arab uprising (Gurock, 1998).

The oil wealth of the region has attracted constant attention from the great powers, including the protagonists in the Cold War. Fairly constant support for Israel on the part of the United States (and, by extension, the U.K.) aside, the formal UN stance most often takes the form of Security Council resolutions on which the permanent members enjoy veto power. Russia and China are often the imponderables in the geopolitical equation.

Historically, Russia has done everything possible to extend its sphere of influence over the Arab world. Israeli officials are of the opinion that Russia may not be predisposed to veto a resolution of sanctions on Iran (Susser, 2006). On the other hand, Putin and company would then find themselves in the position of setting back a nuclear power industry that they helped start and revive with supplies of enriched uranium to the Bushehr plant (near the Shatt-al-Arab, see Figure 4 below) as recently as 2007 (BBC News, 2007).

China has long-term contracts for Iranian petroleum (Susser, 2006), some of it doubtless paid for with countertrade in the form of rocket technology. The mutuality of interests means China could be hesitant to impose sanctions on Iran. This also explains why China has consistently taken an anti-Israel stance even on such matters as the Israeli handling of Palestinian trouble-making.

Even without being directly involved, the United States and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations were held hostage to a quadrupling of crude oil prices and the OPEC oil embargo in the wake of the 1973 Yom Kippur war. From North America to Japan, oil-importing countries quickly saw fit to make common cause with the Arab alliance and reject Israel as an interloper.

Other parties in interest were the Vatican (and, in support, the Italian government) and the French government because there had previously existed the Protectorate of the Holy See and the French Protectorate of Jerusalem. Any “final solution” had to include access by Catholics and other Christians to the Holy Places. Indeed, these were articulated formally in the Treaty of Sèvres and again in article 14 of the Palestinian Mandate (Nicault, 1922).

Being in the majority, the Arabs in Palestine assailed the partition plan of Resolution 181. Leaders of other Arab nations also denied the right of Jews to a homeland (Segev, 2000; UNSCOP, 1947). But victory in the war of 1947 made Israel a de facto reality, at the same time that a generation of Palestinians refusing to become part of the new nation became refugees.

The geopolitical importance of the territory is exemplified by the fact that, immediately after the Declaration of Independence was announced, Iran (which had voted against the UN partition plan), Guatemala, Iceland, Nicaragua, Romania and Uruguay, the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Ireland and South Africa announced recognition of Israel. It was not until 31 January 1949 that the United States extended official recognition (What countries recognized the state of Israel? 2009).

Though not sharing a border, Israel has expressed grave concern about the support that the Muslim theocracy in Iran grants Hamas and Hezbollah in the form of weapons. There are strong grounds for suspecting that Iranian “Zelzals”, with a maximum range of 250 miles, have made their way to the Hezbollah, which the latter has not cared to confirm or deny (BBC News, 2008a). As well, the nuclear powers have been wary about the possibility of an implacably hostile Iran amassing enough enriched plutonium from its power plants to build nuclear warheads. After all, Iran has already test-fired medium range ballistic missiles that could make short work of the distance to Israel.

In the recent past, a sustained push by the P5+1 – the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany – for negotiations coupled with either the carrot of economic incentives or the stick of sanctions has gotten precisely nowhere since Iran felt free to suspend talks or inspection visits at will. Iran also balked at the frequent insistence of the P5+1 side on immediately suspending the uranium enrichment program prior to negotiations and obtaining verifiable benchmarks that this did not include a military component. The two most recent attempts to restart negotiations occurred in May 2008 and April 2009 (Parsi, 2008; Dareini, 2009).

Sanctions were not sufficiently punitive; and the nuclear powers understood neither Iranian psychology nor the power dynamics between Iranian mullahs and the parliamentary government. To break this logjam, Ben-Meir (2009) proposes that Iran must continue to be engaged with three interrelated negotiation tracks:

  1. Provide sufficiently attractive economic incentives for continuing negotiations on Iran’s enrichment program;
  2. Make common cause with allies and neutrals in the region who fear the damage to regional security that a defiant Iran could wreak; and,
  3. Bilateral negotiations to address the grievances Iran and the USA bear each other.

As this paper is being completed, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran officially welcomed the opening overtures of the Obama administration as a chance to start relations afresh; accordingly, he promised that he had a new (but secret) package of proposals to present to P5+1 representatives (Dareini, 2009). However, President Ahmadinejad also expressed the hope that negotiations would respect Iranian independence, while admitting that on April 9, 2009, Iran had inaugurated the final component of the nuclear fuel industry, a facility producing uranium fuel pellets for a heavy-water nuclear reactor on the drawing boards.

Returning to the domestic situation in the Holy Land, relations between Jewish settlers and Palestinian residents have also been ambivalent. The “Chosen People,” as they are called in both the Talmud and the Bible certainly occupied the Holy Land far longer, with archaeological evidence in support as far back as thirteen centuries B.C.E. On the other hand, the Palestinian claim stretches back some 500 to 700 years. When Jewish settlers and investments commenced trickling in during the 1920s, the natives readily assented to selling off tracts of land. In turn, pragmatic policies of the Zionist movement improved agricultural productivity, established schools and health care, and afforded trading opportunities for the population that wished to live congenially with the newcomers. Nonetheless, there were also lives lost in civil strife and internecine warfare, notably during the Palestine Uprising of 1937-1939 and resistance to the UN-sponsored partition from 1946 to 1948 (Karsh, 2008).

Gaps: What is unknown?

Israel has never officially admitted or denied ownership of nuclear warheads (estimated at 75 to 200 in BBC News, 2008b). It is fortuitous that the country never signed the nuclear NPT; the United States and its allies have blocked attempts by Iran and hostile Arab countries to subject Israel to either IAEA inspection or, failing that, international sanctions. Should war erupt again just when Israel is politically isolated for its handling of the Palestinian state and matters on the battlefield go as badly as at the beginning of the Yom Kippur war, the question becomes: are its nuclear weapons enough to deter invading armies from annihilating the nation entirely?

The United States has reason to worry about what progress Iran has already made toward amassing the critical quantities of plutonium and mastering the techniques of assembling nuclear warheads.

The other great unknowns are, of course

  • the priority targets Iran has for the increasingly longer-range missiles it has developed;
  • what type and how large a weapon payload these can take;
  • which parties Iran is willing to share these with.

To the west, Turkey, Israel and Egypt are all within range of the “Shahab 3b” version tested in mid-2008 (Pang, 2008). So are U.S. naval units all the way out to the Red Sea, the eastern Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. Also at risk are troops of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. Publicly, Iran has threatened both Tel Aviv and U.S. Navy units in the Gulf. Clearly, however, the threat of a medium-range ballistic missile cannot but have a sobering effect on any country around the region that cares to face up to Iranian intransigence.

MAXIMUM MISSILE RANGE MAP OF RANGE*
Shahab-3b 2,500km
Shahab-3a 1,800km
Shahab-3 1,300km
Shahab-2 500km
Zelzal: up to 400km
Fateh: 170km
Map of Range
*Assuming launch point in central Iran
Sources: GlobalSecurity.org, AFP, Jane’s

The Shahab3b was reportedly designed to take nuclear warheads. While defense analysts are confident that perfecting such a mating is a complex undertaking (Pang, 2008), this has to be at least an order of magnitude simpler than the demonstrated ability to enrich uranium.

Why are some things unknown?

The intelligence gaps with respect to Iran’s nuclear weaponry have to do with

  • how many enrichment plants does Iran have;
  • have they obtained enough weapons-grade material and for how many bombs;
  • how far along are they in bomb design;
  • what delivery vehicles are they developing, aside from the obvious one of tactical and ballistic rockets; and,
  • what are the options open to the U.S. and Israel to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran?

No one knows for sure how far down the road Iran is to becoming a nuclear power in great part because the country feels no obligation to comply with unfettered International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections or the nonproliferation treaty (NPT). Iran would not even disclose the location of all the uranium enrichment plants it had started to operate (Susser, 2006).

In 2004 talks with the EU, Iran agreed to a moratorium on uranium enrichment. Early in 2006, however, Iran broke the agreement and announced it would re-operate the heavily fortified Natanz enrichment plant in Kashan, 130 miles south of Tehran (Pike, 2009) and an unspecified number of similar facilities.

Iran's Key Nuclear Sites
Figure 4: Iran’s Key Nuclear Sites

Natanz is the focus of dispute with the EU and the UN Security Council, notwithstanding U.S. intelligence analysis that Iran does not have a military nuclear program, because it is known that at least 3,000 centrifuges have been installed as of September 2007 (BBC News, 2007). Centrifuges are the equipment required to separate uranium 235 from uranium 238. Weapons-grade plutonium 238 and plutonium 239 are synthesized by bombarding uranium-238 with deuterons and neutrons, respectively, as in a research or breeder reactor. Satellite surveillance reveals that as early as 2002, Iran had constructed the three key centrifuge chambers at Natanz completely underground (Pike, 2009). By February 2004, these were no longer visible from the air.

Other sources suggest that Iran has already passed the 3,000-centrifuge mark. Soon after Iran announced that operations at Natanz would resume, Israeli military intelligence estimated that Iran would have enough enriched uranium to construct at least one device by late 2009 (Susser, 2006). The departing head of military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi- Farkash, presented to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee the worst-case time table then of gearing up to produce weapons-grade uranium the rest of 2006 and just three years to assemble enough for one warhead.

Of the eight other known facilities, the Bushehr power plant is already presumed to have been operating since early 2008, following Russian deliveries of enriched uranium in December 2007 (BBC News, 2007). Isfahan now boasts a plant that converts uranium ore into, among others, uranium oxide and uranium metal, neither of which can be used by any Iranian reactor. More ominously, the metal form is a vital component of nuclear bomb cores. Thirdly, there is the Arak heavy water facility. Again, heavy water can damp fission chain reaction (in a reactor type that Iran does not possess) or produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Quite apart from being isolated, Iran has reason to fear:

  • World censure and unrelenting pressure to comply with the NPT.
  • A preemptive strike such as Israel conducted against Syria’s Osirak reactor.
  • The all-too-recent claim of ownership of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that President Bush used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Why should the gaps be filled?

Both the Bush and Obama administrations trusted that negotiations and incentives would be sufficient to deter Iran from pursuing the development of nuclear weapons. So far, Israel has also hewed to the policy of shepherding international consensus to put pressure on Iran.

In the fractious politics that is Israel, however, it comes as no surprise that there are political and military leaders who advocate a military strike. In mid-January 2006, for instance, the former national security adviser Uzi Dayan renounced negotiation in a televised interview and pushed for a pre-emptive strike that would, he expected, awaken other nations concerned with the balance of power in the Middle East from their complacency about Iranian nuclear capabilities (Susser, 2006). As head of the newly-minted “Tafnit” political party, Dayan may have been playing to radically-inclined audiences but he obviously believed that forestalling an “Islamic bomb” counted for more than any possible reprisals enraged Shiite Muslims around the region could take.

Which gaps do you propose to fill and why have you chosen them?

For an America still increasing military forces in Afghanistan and worried about Iranian support for jihadists there and on the borders of Israel, affirming that the uranium-processing industry in Iran has purely civilian end-uses would simplify contingency planning for the region. On the other hand, finding out that Iran has already passed the point of no return on the road to nuclear armaments implies that Central Command must be prepared for conventional warfare in nuclear-threatened battlefields, missile defense and counterinsurgency where elusive terrorist cells acquire compact nuclear devices.

Actors and Perceptions

There are likely very few states in the world that does not have some interest in whether or not the State of Israel survives. There are, however, on a few that have a vital interest in its survival and have the ability to influence this. With the inclusion of Israel itself, the most likely actors to play a major role in whether Israel survives are Israel, the United States, Iran and Palestine. Each state has its own reasons to be concerned or interested in Israel’s survival and each state has its own interpretation and viewpoint of the issue. In order to effectively predict responses to Israel’s recent behavior vis-à-vis the actions of its neighbors it is essential to analyze the most influential actors involved in the potential scenario and the individual actor’s perspective.

Israel

Israel is the most obvious centerpiece of this analysis and the Israeli perspective on threats to its survival will play a key role in predicting the responses of the other states to its own behavior. As with any policy issue within a state there are a number of issue that will affect the decision making process including, economics, public perceptions, analysis of potential costs and benefits of its recent actions and regional offense and defense issues. There will always be the possibility that the next major regional conflict will result in the destruction of the state of Israel. Therefore it is imperative to explore the factors that Israel will attempt to address in terms of what it must do to survive.

Therefore it is imperative to explore the factors that Iran will attempt to address in terms of whether or not Iran develops nuclear weapons.

Iran

Iran is an important element in understanding the factors related to the survival of the state of Israel. It is a close ally of Syria which in its turn is a known supplier of arms and training to Hamas and other Palestinian radical groups who are attempting to destabilize Israel. There is evidence that Iran is behind the many of the terror groups. With the emaciation of Iraq in the 1990s Iran stands as the preeminent state among radical Muslim states in the Middle East. As with any policy issue within a state there are a number of issues that will affect the decision making process including, economics, public perceptions, analysis of potential costs and benefits of its recent actions and regional offense and defense issues. It is imperative to explore the factors that will influence Iran as it continues to launch attempts to undermine Israel and advance its stated goal of the destruction of the state of Israel.

Economics

The economy of Iran is best described as being severely strained in the last few decades. The Ayatollah Khomeini and his anti-modernist stance since the 1980s and the devastating aftermath of the Iran-Iraq war retarded economic growth in Iran (Mozley, 1998). High oil and petroleum prices of recent years have bolstered the Iranian economy somewhat. However, high unemployment rates and inflation are still points of concern (CIA Factbook, 2009). Iran is currently putting effort on diversifying its economy and weans it from the oil-based economy of the 20th century. However, these efforts are still in the early stages.

Iran is currently undertaking efforts to diversify its economy away from the oil-based economy of the 20th century, but these efforts are still in the infant stages. Iran dedicates large portions of its national budget to defense, including no doubt appropriations to help fund terror groups. Iran in recent years has gained attention for developing steps to create nuclear weapons although the cost of these remains prohibitive. Yet this is cheapest path for Iran to develop a credible military deterrent against larger, richer and more powerful states such as the United States (Takeyh, 2003). However, efforts to develop weapons grade nuclear technology have been met with strict international disproval and have merited economic sanctions in the pasts. On an ideological level, Iran is an economic pygmy compared to other Islamic states, there is likely some concern that the economic difficulties of Iran will equate into a loss of face for Iran within their home region and create onus for aggravated local security threats. There also lies the possibility that Iran could augment its weak economy by selling illicit weapons a fact that has already been proven by the presence of Iranian long range rockets among Palestinian terror groups.

Politics

The Iranian political situation is as confused and convoluted as its economy. Re-Electionist President Mahamoud Ahmadi-Nejad is the focus of a number of controversies. Among them is the accusations that he was involved in the infamous 1979 Hostage Crisis, and even possibly involved in the assassination of the political opposition, including Kurdish leaders during the 1970s and 1980s (BBC News, 6/30/05). Despite these myriad concerns President Ahmadi-Nejad received about 60% of the popular vote in the 2005 elections and the president’s ultra-rightwing tone seems to be supported by a significant majority of the Iranian government.

The elimination of the state of Israel has significant support from the Iranian public. To this day the rhetoric of a Judeo-Christian conspiracy against Islam and the ignominy afflicted upon Palestinian Muslims by Israel rings true in the hearts of the Iranian public. They have not forgotten how, to them, the illegitimate state of Israel was founded in 1948 and how it continues to be a blight in the hegemony of the Arab world nor how the Palestinians were forcibly ejected from their lands by these invaders. Popular clamor against Israel is so great that Iran is supporting terrorist groups operating against Israel with money, arms and training.

National Security Concerns

The main reasons behind the Iranian nuclear weapons program are both related to national security. First, Iran is in an awkward position within its geographic position. Iran shares its borders with three former Soviet states, Turkmenistan, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The United States, a sworn enemy of Iran, has a strong position in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pakistan is a confirmed nuclear power and despite maintaining good relations with Iran, has sufficient nuclear clout to coerce Iran should it choose to do so. In this current environment, it is perhaps not surprising that Iran has entertained notions of its own nuclear weapons arsenal. Kurt Campbell defines “eroding regional security” as one of the five factors that could encourage a state to consider the value of developing nuclear weapons (in Campbell, Einhorn & Reiss, 2004). Iran considers itself a historical victim of numerous “expansionist aggressors” who includes the Western states’ dependence on the oil reserves of the Middle East and the influence of the United States on Middle Eastern politics (Ziemke, 2000). With respect to the current geo-political and military make up of the Middle East along with Iran’s historic view of itself as a victim of outside interests, the development of a nuclear arsenal, and the perceived strength and security it will bring, is most appealing.

The United States

The United States concerns itself with the potential of an Iranian nuclear weapons program for a number of reasons. Most of which will revolve around national security matters. However, it must also concern itself with the security of Israel and the safety of the oil reserve of the Middle East vis-à-vis its oil needs. The United States keeps a pervasive military presence in the Middle East and is thus the most likely to present an overt military threat to Iranian national security. This will result in a somewhat strange paradox as the U.S. is not going to end its current operations in Afghanistan and Iraq just to assuage Iran’s fears but it is the very presence of large numbers of American troops in the region which threatens Iran’s national security and drives it to potentially stockpile nuclear weapons.

Economics

The primary economic concern of the United States in the Middle East is the security of the oil supply. The development of Iranian nuclear weapons would serious threaten the balance of power in the region as Iran could influence OPEC’s relationship with the U.S. and threaten its oil supply. As the United States is the largest consumer of petroleum products in the world a souring of U.S. relations with the Middle East states could dramatically affect the United States economy (Cooper in Global Issues, 2004). In fact, oil is the Achilles heel of the United States economy as its dependence on foreign oil is its only true weakness. Due to this vulnerability the United States has much to gain from preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and potentially disrupting its oil supply.

Politics

The United States is the preeminent force behind many of the international conventions against the proliferation of nuclear arms. In the United State’s reputation has taken at least two negative hits with the development of nuclear weapons by Pakistan and North Korean’s flagrant saber-rattling of their own nuclear weapons program. The key to any deterrence strategy is credibility and in order for the United States to bolster its credibility with regards to deterring nuclear proliferation, the United States may have to take a decisive stand on Iran (Watman, et al., 1995). In order to prevent the possibility of an Iran with nuclear capabilities the United States must take a decisive stand.

The United States is also the preeminent supporter of Israel. After France withdrew from Algeria in the 1960 and abandoned its interest in Africa and the Middle-East, The United States remained the only ally Israel could still count on. During the Yom Kippur War of 1973 only the United States sent any meaningful aid to the beleaguered state in the form of massive airlifts of war materiel. However, the U.S. position as Israeli ally may have been weakened in recent years. The United States has major troop deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan troops which require large quantities of supplies which in turn drain the logistical capabilities and stockpiles of the United States. In the event of another Yom Kippur where Israeli weapons stockpiles are rapidly exhausted the U.S. may find that it has neither the airlift capability nor any supplies to send. Even if it could send aid the U.S. may be reluctant to intervene at all. Not only has its actions in Iraq and Afghanistan made any military interventions politically expensive on the home front but widespread news reports of human rights violations during the recent Hezbollah-Israel conflict will make supporting Israel in a new war difficult.

National Security Concerns

The United States and Iran have had an adversarial relationship since the Iranian Revolution and the fall of the pro-American Shah in 1979. The Iran-Iraq war saw widespread U.S. Support for Iraq in the form of weapons and economic aid. (Hook & Spanier, 2004.) The last 25-30 years have not seen any reduction in the animosity between the United States and Iran. Iran is still a “rouge state” and a member of the “Axis of Evil” while the United States remains the “Greater Satan” to the Iranian government (Haass, 1997). As a result of this animosity, the U.S. continues to consider Iran as a potential National security threat and even the slightest possibility that Iran might gain nuclear weapons capability is greatly disturbing.

The United States designated Iran as a “state sponsor of terrorism” in 1984, believing the Iran provides economic aid and perhaps military equipment to international terrorist organizations (www.state.gov/s/ct/c14151.htm, 2005). In addition to concerns about Iran’s incipient nuclear weapons program and the possibility that it would export nuclear capability to other rouge elements that will eventually use the same to target the United States or its allies.

While the jury is still out on whether or not terrorists will eventually acquire or use Iranian nuclear weapons, the United States is not prepared to simply do nothing while a state that supports terrorism develops nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, The United States has a secondary interest in the potential Iranian nuclear weapons because of the threat it will pose on Israel. Iran remains one of Israel’s most bitter enemies. It is common knowledge that Iran is supporting a number of terrorist groups operating against Israel including Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad (Simonsen & Spindlove, 2004). In the past the United States has been committed to exhausting all remedies to ensure the survival of the state of Israel. Therefore, such a major threat to Israel is a threat to the United States security as well.

Israel

Iran and Israel are mortal enemies. Since 1948 Iran has steadfastly refused to recognize Israel as a sovereign state. Iran has constantly decried the creation of Israel. Even as other Arab states have moderated their views and have begun to normalize relations with Israel Iran remains dedicated to the cause of “driving the Zionists to the sea”. Despite its perceived strength, Israel is very vulnerable in the Middle East. It is the lone Jewish state in the world and is surrounded by Arab Muslims who continue to hold a grudge over the creation of Israel over sixty-years ago. Israel has been forced to reckon with its relatively weak position on the International arena because Arabs can use oil as leverage against those who would aid Israel. Israel considers the possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons major national security concern.

National Security Concerns

Israel has and will always enjoy an unenviable position in Middle Eastern politics. Until as late as the 1990s Arab nations considered Israel a “rogue state” and refused to recognize it as a nation. It is a nation literally surrounded by a sea of foes. The Yom Kippur war showed how easily the World’s nations can be bullied into submission by means of an Oil embargo. Israel is aware that it has few allies it can count on for support should a major conflict erupt. However the same war and other conflicts prior and after have shown that the IDF is at par, if not superior to the militaries of its neighbors. In a conventional conflict, short of a strategic surprise attack as in the Yom Kippur, Israel will be very difficult to overpower. In the unlikely scenario that it is defeated in a conventional war Israel can still rely on its significant stockpile of nuclear weapons to deter an attempt to drive them to the sea.

Israel has a unique position of being a recognized as nuclear state but has never openly admitted possession of the same. Israel is still the only nuclear state in the Middle East. Nuclear power provides Israel with a doomsday last resort should its military fail utterly. Should the unthinkable happen and the IDF is decisively beaten, Israel can resort to nuclear strikes. For example if IDF becomes completely combat ineffective amidst a major Arab offensive, the IAF can launch strikes against both battlefield targets and Arab capitals to cow them into stopping their offensive. What makes this deterrent more effective is that no other state in the region can deploy nuclear weapons. This will change if Iran is able to develop nuclear weapons. The situation will be similar to the nuclear standoff in the Jammu and Kashmir regions between India and Pakistan where the threat of mutually assured destruction makes deployment of such weapons highly unlikely. And while some argue that Israel’s nuclear capabilities have contributed to lessen of tensions between Israel and a number of its Arab neighbors (Joshi, 2000), the introduction of a second nuclear state in the region could destabilize the region as nothing since the creation of Israel has. Israel has the most to lose if the Iranians develop a working nuclear weapons program and is the most likely respond with military action. Given the close relationship between the United States and Israel and the likelihood that direct military action from Israel against Iran will spark hostilities in the region the development of nuclear weapons by Iran creates a host of problems for United States National Security.

Israel’s position in the Middle East has recently come under new fire from Iran’s recently elected president Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad. The Iranian President has said at different times that Israel is a “cancerous tumor” that must be removed, that Israel should be “wiped off the map” (New York Times, 10/30/05). President Ahmadi-Nehjad commented as well that he had doubts about whether the Holocaust happened and suggested that Israel should be moved to Europe (AlJazeera.net, 12/9/05). Comments such as these made by the ruling leader of a sovereign state help to illuminate why Israel would be so concerned about Iran’s potential to develop nuclear weapons.

Palestine

Palestine of today is chaotic state which is unable to form a stable government due to external and internal factors. More than any other state in the region Palestine or more accurately terrorists from Palestine have been the most constant threat to Israel.

Palestine’s pseudo independence is the result of concessions by Israel vis-à-vis demands to grant autonomy to the Palestinians who were the original occupants of Palestine before Israel asserted its independence in 1948. It has been unable to succeed as a state primarily because it remains too dependent on Israel. Recent attempts to establish a government have failed because Israel cut-off funding to its government on accusations that the Hamas was behind a spate of attacks on Israel.

The current Palestinian population remains embittered and marginalized making it an ideal recruitment ground for potential terrorists. It is not surprising that Israelis’ eye Palestinians with considerable suspicion as Palestinians masquerading as blue-collar workers can just as easily be suicide bombers.

National Security Concerns

The greatest threat to Palestinian national security is two-fold; Israel and the Palestinians themselves. There are many radical elements in Palestine that advocate violence against the Israelis. Given the desperation and lack of hope that permeates Palestine it is easy to recruit young men to become suicide bombers. Although Israel has many measures to prevent suicide attacks when an attack succeeds it usually means large numbers of casualties. Israel will then resort to reprisal attacks which will be even more violent that the attack that cause it.

In addition to random terror bombings Hezbollah has shown a willingness and ability to make short-ranged rocket attacks into Israel with varying levels of success. Using antiquated missile technology imported from Iran or Syria they made a series of attacks around January of this year. What is perhaps more devastating was the reaction of Israel which resulted in numerous apparently non-military targets getting destroyed. Allegations were made that Hezbollah was using the said buildings as launch sites.

If Iran is able to develop viable nuclear weapons the chance exists that they can export this technology to Palestinian terror groups which, if used, will not only inflict devastating losses on Israel but Iran will be able to disclaim involvement.

Research Design

This study pursues predictive analysis following the Lockwood Analytical Method for Prediction. Base data derives from fairly exhaustive secondary research into the background, actors and propensities for action discerned from public pronouncements. Given the long-term character of the U.S.-Israel relationship and the thicket of conflicting interests, it was thought likely from the onset that the popular press would be replete with opinion on all sides of the issue. Hence, best efforts were exerted to locate authoritative analyses applicable to the current situation of multiple national interests and alliances. Diligent search with multiple key phrases were undertaken on such databases of law reviews and peer-reviewed journals as LexisNexisAU, Proquest, Ebscohost, CSA, Emerald, Infotrac and Oxford Reference Online.

Having gained some insight into the actors and their perceptions, this analytical paper will then have at its core Dr. Jonathan Lockwood’s LAMP. While all predictive analyses must necessarily acknowledge that the future is never clear-cut, LAMP rests on the philosophy that future scenarios represent the sum total of all interactions of free will. Hence, analysis is possible based on quantifying the relative probabilities of a variety of contingencies.

LAMP is systematic to the extent of requiring a 12-step procedure:

  1. Determine the Predictive Issue.
  2. Specify the Actors Bearing on the Problem.
  3. Conduct in-depth study of perceptions and intentions of each actor.
  4. Specify courses of action for each actor.
  5. Determine the major scenarios.
  6. Calculate the number of alternate futures.
  7. Do pairwise comparison of alternate futures.
  8. Rank order the alternate futures.
  9. Analyze consequences of alternate futures.
  10. Determine focal events for alternate futures.
  11. Develop indicators for each focal event.
  12. Assess the potential for transposition between alternate futures.

Analysis Findings

The Major Scenarios and Alternate Futures

The first tool in LAMP analysis comprises calculation of the number of alternate futures. To reiterate, the expected courses of action for each of the principal actors are:

PRINCIPAL ACTORS SCENARIOS COURSES OF ACTION
Iran and Palestinian allies Status quo

Stay with civilian use of nuclear power
Wage war

Acquiesce to NPT but support guerilla war
Acquiesce to NPT, break off terrorist alliances
Become nuclear power
America Status quo

Involvement with IAEA inspection
Wage war

Diplomatic pressure and negotiations
Wage war
Withdraw, become isolationist
Israel Status quo

Involvement with IAEA inspection
Wage war

Support negotiations

Independent Palestine

Face annihilation

The basic equation (Lockwood, 1993) for coming to grips with the number of alternate futures is:

Xy = Z

Where X = number of possible actions

y = number of actors or alliances involved

Hence,

33 = 27

To find the number of scenarios and evaluate their pair-wise probability in convenient shorthand, one first of all transforms the speculative scenarios into mnemonic codes, like so:

FS = full support for Iranian Nuclear Programs, no matter what direction it takes

ID = continue with the status quo of soliciting international diplomatic pressure to obstruct military uses for Iranian nuclear program

AC = Engage in armed conflict forestall any prospect of military uses for Iranian nuclear program

In turn, each alternative future will be evaluated against three scenarios:

Scenario 1 = Status quo

Scenario 2 = Involvement with IAEA inspection

Scenario 3 = Wage war

The list of all possible permutations is therefore as follows:

Table I – Alternate Future Permutations
Possible Future # United States Iran Israel
1 FS FS FS
2 FS FS ID
3 FS ID FS
4 ID FS FS
5 FS ID ID
6 ID FS ID
7 ID ID FS
8 ID ID ID
9 FS FS AC
10 FS AC FS
11 AC FS FS
12 FS AC AC
13 AC FS AC
14 AC AC FS
15 AC AC AC
16 ID ID AC
17 ID AC ID
18 AC ID ID
19 AC AC ID
20 ID AC AC
21 AC ID AC
22 FS AC ID
23 FS ID AC
24 ID AC FS
25 ID FS AC
26 AC ID FS
27 AC FS ID

Pairwise Comparisons of Probability of Occurrence

Having lined up all possible combinations of scenario actions for each major player, we now have a base set of alternate futures. The systematic process of LAMP now requires that an assessment be made of each alternate future against another in a dyadic comparison. Provided the intelligence analyst has developed enough insight into the motivations and leanings of each principal player, he can decide which alternate future is more likely in a given pair. The process continues until all pairs have been evaluated.

Given ordinary permutation equations for 27 alternate futures taken two at a time, we derive a total of 702 pairwise comparisons.

For Scenario 1, Status Quo, we derive Table 2 (overleaf)

Table 2
Alternate Futures Table
Scenario 1 – Status Quo (SQ)
Possible Future # United States Iran Israel Scenario Fit Rating
1 FS FS FS 20
2 FS FS ID 70
3 FS ID FS 20
4 ID FS FS 50
5 FS ID ID 20
6 ID FS ID 98
7 ID ID FS 10
8 ID ID ID 80
9 FS FS AC 25
10 FS AC FS 15
11 AC FS FS 0
12 FS AC AC 30
13 AC FS AC 15
14 AC AC FS 5
15 AC AC AC 0
16 ID ID AC 40
17 ID AC ID 5
18 AC ID ID 15
19 AC AC ID 10
20 ID AC AC 10
21 AC ID AC 5
22 FS AC ID 5
23 FS ID AC 5
24 ID AC FS 0
25 ID FS AC 40
26 AC ID FS 20
27 AC FS ID 15
FS = full support for Iranian Nuclear Programs, no matter what direction it takes
ID = continue with the status quo of soliciting international diplomatic pressure to obstruct military uses for Iranian nuclear program
AC = Engage in armed conflict, forestall any prospect of military uses for Iranian nuclear program

If Iran were to be completely open and permit long-term IAEA inspection at all nuclear plants and storage sites, Scenario 2 comes about. The pairwise probability of occurrence is shown in Table 3 overleaf.

Table 3
Alternate Futures Table
Scenario 2 – Open to Inspection (OI)
Possible Future # United States Iran Israel Scenario Fit Rating
1 FS FS FS 70
2 FS FS ID 80
3 FS ID FS 30
4 ID FS FS 30
5 FS ID ID 20
6 ID FS ID 100
7 ID ID FS 20
8 ID ID ID 100
9 FS FS AC 10
10 FS AC FS 0
11 AC FS FS 10
12 FS AC AC 0
13 AC FS AC 5
14 AC AC FS 0
15 AC AC AC 0
16 ID ID AC 20
17 ID AC ID 15
18 AC ID ID 5
19 AC AC ID 5
20 ID AC AC 5
21 AC ID AC 5
22 FS AC ID 10
23 FS ID AC 2
24 ID AC FS 10
25 ID FS AC 10
26 AC ID FS 15
27 AC FS ID 30
FS = full support for Iranian Nuclear Programs, no matter what direction it takes
ID = continue with the status quo of soliciting international diplomatic pressure to obstruct military uses for Iranian nuclear program
AC = Engage in armed conflict, forestall any prospect of military uses for Iranian nuclear program

In the doomsday scenario 3, Iran succeeds in surreptitiously building enough warheads and fitting them to a sufficient number of medium-range missiles to either achieve a first-strike wipeout of Israel or present the IDF with a no-win case. The pairwise probabilities are shown in Table 4 below.

Table 4
Alternate Futures Table
Scenario 3 – Nuclear-Armed Missiles Operational (NM)
Possible Future # United States Iran Israel Scenario Fit Rating
1 FS FS FS 10
2 FS FS ID 5
3 FS ID FS 0
4 ID FS FS 2
5 FS ID ID 5
6 ID FS ID 0
7 ID ID FS 0
8 ID ID ID 5
9 FS FS AC 75
10 FS AC FS 0
11 AC FS FS 2
12 FS AC AC 100
13 AC FS AC 100
14 AC AC FS 80
15 AC AC AC 100
16 ID ID AC 90
17 ID AC ID 5
18 AC ID ID 15
19 AC AC ID 20
20 ID AC AC 95
21 AC ID AC 100
22 FS AC ID 20
23 FS ID AC 60
24 ID AC FS 10
25 ID FS AC 90
26 AC ID FS 12
27 AC FS ID 5
FS = full support for Iranian Nuclear Programs, no matter what direction it takes
ID = continue with the status quo of soliciting international diplomatic pressure to obstruct military uses for Iranian nuclear program
AC = Engage in armed conflict, forestall any prospect of military uses for Iranian nuclear program

In this and the following pages, we present the results of ranking the alternate scenarios according to acknowledged likelihood.

Table 5
Alternate Futures Rankings
Scenario 1 – Status Quo (SQ)
Possible Future # United States Iran Israel Scenario Fit Rating
6 ID FS ID 98
8 ID ID ID 80
2 FS FS ID 70
4 ID FS FS 50
16 ID ID AC 40
25 ID FS AC 40
12 FS AC AC 30
9 FS FS AC 25
1 FS FS FS 20
3 FS ID FS 20
5 FS ID ID 20
26 AC ID FS 20
10 FS AC FS 15
13 AC FS AC 15
18 AC ID ID 15
27 AC FS ID 15
7 ID ID FS 10
19 AC AC ID 10
20 ID AC AC 10
14 AC AC FS 5
17 ID AC ID 5
21 AC ID AC 5
22 FS AC ID 5
23 FS ID AC 5
11 AC FS FS 0
15 AC AC AC 0
24 ID AC FS 0
N.B.
FS = full support for Iranian Nuclear Programs, no matter what direction it takes
ID = continue with the status quo of soliciting international diplomatic pressure to obstruct military uses for Iranian nuclear program
AC = Engage in armed conflict forestall any prospect of military uses for Iranian nuclear program
Table 6
Alternate Futures Rankings
Scenario 2 – Open to Inspection (OI)
Possible Future # United States Iran Israel Scenario Fit Rating
6 ID FS ID 100
8 ID ID ID 100
2 FS FS ID 80
1 FS FS FS 70
3 FS ID FS 30
4 ID FS FS 30
27 AC FS ID 30
5 FS ID ID 20
7 ID ID FS 20
16 ID ID AC 20
17 ID AC ID 15
26 AC ID FS 15
9 FS FS AC 10
11 AC FS FS 10
22 FS AC ID 10
24 ID AC FS 10
25 ID FS AC 10
13 AC FS AC 5
18 AC ID ID 5
19 AC AC ID 5
20 ID AC AC 5
21 AC ID AC 5
23 FS ID AC 2
10 FS AC FS 0
12 FS AC AC 0
14 AC AC FS 0
15 AC AC AC 0
N.B.
FS = full support for Iranian Nuclear Programs, no matter what direction it takes
ID = continue with the status quo of soliciting international diplomatic pressure to obstruct military uses for Iranian nuclear program
AC = Engage in armed conflict forestall any prospect of military uses for Iranian nuclear program
Table 7
Alternate Futures Rankings
Scenario 3 – Nuclear-Armed Missiles Operational (NM)
Possible Future # United States Iran Israel Scenario Fit Rating
12 FS AC AC 100
13 AC FS AC 100
15 AC AC AC 100
21 AC ID AC 100
20 ID AC AC 95
16 ID ID AC 90
25 ID FS AC 90
14 AC AC FS 80
9 FS FS AC 75
23 FS ID AC 60
19 AC AC ID 20
22 FS AC ID 20
18 AC ID ID 15
26 AC ID FS 12
1 FS FS FS 10
24 ID AC FS 10
2 FS FS ID 5
5 FS ID ID 5
8 ID ID ID 5
17 ID AC ID 5
27 AC FS ID 5
4 ID FS FS 2
11 AC FS FS 2
3 FS ID FS 0
6 ID FS ID 0
7 ID ID FS 0
10 FS AC FS 0
N.B.
FS = full support for Iranian Nuclear Programs, no matter what direction it takes
ID = continue with the status quo of soliciting international diplomatic pressure to obstruct military uses for Iranian nuclear program
AC = Engage in armed conflict forestall any prospect of military uses for Iranian nuclear program

Analysis of Alternate Futures

Scenario 1: Status Quo

In this scenario, the Obama presidency never accomplishes a breakthrough from decades of diplomatic stalemate and outright hostility. Iran continues to play to extremists by excoriating “The Greater Satan”, expresses willingness to come to the negotiating table while imposing fruitless conditions, but never really gives EU and IAEA inspectorate teams free run of all uranium processing and storage facilities. Israel officially relies on continuing diplomatic pressure on Iran by the known nuclear powers. The United States presses hard on its client state to not take any covert or special operation to destroy Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities.

Meantime, new evidence comes to light that Iran has shipped Zelzals to the Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria and promised them first crack at nuclear tactical warheads when the time comes. Hamas and the Palestinian National Authority continue to stockpile firearms and high explosives. Al Jazeera and CNN fill the airwaves with shots of ruined buildings and hysterical mourners while keeping deathly quiet about the dozens of Scud-type rockets that Palestinians fire at Israeli settlers every week.

Going by the ranked average rating of those evaluating the alternate futures under scenario 1, the most likely outcomes are:

  • AF 6: This is assigned a 0.98 probability, virtual certainty. Iran gets its way with operating its uranium enrichment program away from the prying eyes of IAEA inspectors and the diplomatic corps. America continues to press for negotiation but gets nowhere with either incentives or the threat of sanctions since China provides substantial backdoor assistance. Despite two changes in government, meantime, Israel toes the U.S. line in hoping that the diplomatic option will yield results.
  • AF 8: At 0.80 probability, it is believed that this has an excellent likelihood of coming about, too. All three parties officially abide by diplomatic initiatives and there is renewed interest in the “roadmap” for Middle East peace aimed at making the two-state solution viable in the Holy Land.
  • AF 2: Also assigned a high (0.70) probability of occurrence, the difference is that the Obama administration publicly swings in favor of toeing the Iran line that their entire nuclear program has solely civilian end-uses. Tehran welcomes this modern-day appeasement and continues to insist on its peaceable intentions. Israel’s reliance on international diplomatic pressure being brought to bear on Iran continues while hoping that inspector teams will eventually be let in and discover something amiss. Palestinians are emboldened that their sponsor has gotten its way. The Israeli casualty count mounts due to the resumption of suicide bombing missions and a new “intifada”, both of which CNN editorializes as justified by Israeli “oppression”.

Scenario 2: Open Nuclear Enrichment Program, Full Access Given to IAEA Inspectorate Teams

  • AF 6: All three of the status quo alternate futures show up once again in this scenario. The evaluators were absolutely certain that the U.S. and Israel would abide by the international diplomacy option while Iran is thoroughly convinced that it has earned such legitimacy it is in full control of nuclear fuel enrichment and processing program. So much so that no one is asking why two breeder plants tucked away in the Alborz and Zagros mountain ranges mysteriously disappeared from the sites offered up for IAEA inspection. Tehran’s answer: they have been mothballed.
  • AF 8: In this alternate future, also rated a certainty, all three nations are united in their optimism about the value of international diplomatic solidarity. Since the Palestinians see no direct benefit of IAEA legitimacy to themselves, they continue to press for a viable state of their own in ways that weaken the global image of Israel.
  • AF 2: Flush with the “success” of his rapprochement, President Obama signs all sorts of assistance and mutual defense treaties with Iran. Under this alternate future, believed to have a 0.80 probability, the two new allies make it known that they will not brook any interference with the independence of Iran’s nuclear industry policy-making and implementation. Lest of all, from Israel. The latter quietly increases efforts to infiltrate the uranium enrichment program and test-fires the new Arrow 3 missile defense system, still subsidized by America.

Scenario 3: Iran Unwraps Operational Nuclear-Armed Missile Regiments, War is Imminent

  • AF 12: On February 11, 2011, “Islamic Revolution’s Victory Day”, Iran parades a squadron of Shahab3 medium-range ballistic missiles to the cheers of Tehran’s throngs. At a party that evening for the diplomatic corps, President: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad quietly lets it be known that, yes, multi-stage thermonuclear warheads are mounted on all the new missiles. But he will not say where they are likely to be targeted. While President Obama and the Secretary of State limply declare their continuing support for Iran’s independent nuclear policy, the first salvo of Israel’s hitherto-secret Gabriel 5 nuclear-armed cruise missiles demolishes Iran’s Air Force headquarters and 4 of the Shahab 3 missile sites. The IAF catches Iran’s air defense barrier napping and destroys the 40% of Iranian fighter-bombers that had mobilized and assembled at the Shatt-al-Arab. Two unsuspected missile bases in the Zagros fire a Shahab 3 each at Israel. One is intercepted but the second gets through and demolishes Haifa. Before sunrise, Iran and Syria declare war. The U.S. declares its neutrality. The fate of Israel hangs in the balance.
  • AF 13: As Iran stridently maintains it must be allowed to pursue peaceful uses of its rocket technology – such as the 2012 launch of a “Pan-Islam” communications satellite system – President Obama is persuaded to make a policy turnaround and “punish” Iran for deception. The U.S. and Israel launch coordinated air strikes from Turkey, through Syria and across the Gulf.
  • AF 15: The third alternate future was rated just as certain as the first two. Iran commences combat operations 15 minutes after the first salvo of Shahab5 missiles are fired at Tel Aviv and one-fifth of IAF air bases. The U.S. and Israel commence emergency air operations, albeit coordinated based on the “Doomsday” SIOP for the Middle East. The first day of war ends with considerable casualties on the Israeli and Iranian sides. All Arab League countries except Jordan and Saudi Arabia declare war on Israel. China, Libya, Yemen, the GCC countries, and Egypt commit troops and aircraft to the Iranian side. Al Qaeda announces they have planted a booby-trapped suitcase device under the new Olympic stadium in London and will set it off remotely if the U.S. does not withdraw support from Israel by 12 noon the following day. Israelis are grimly determined their nation will survive even if they have to drown the entire Middle East in a lake of nuclear fire. Except for one fired straight at Tehran, the 199 other Israeli nuclear warheads are still waiting on the sidelines.

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