Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Matt 24 watch, 213: The Nuke red line nears in the Middle East

As the last post shows, I have been a bit busy on real world matters recently.

A 7" tablet in a keyboard folio.
The dongle to the right is gone now,
thanks to a mini USB port.
(BTW, as a part of the real world developments, my son has been equipped with a 7" reasonable quality "white box" hecho en la Chine 7" Android Tablet of modest capability, and  a low cost keyboard folio. A test drive indicates the configuration is promising, though I would prefer a bluetooth keyboard. As a second best a USB to mini USB adapter with an L-shaped plug would be nice. I find I miss a small track-pad on the keyboard, having got used to my Eee Netbook. Overall, such a config is definitely promising, and Kingsoft's Android Office Suite does the job. I still have high hopes for Libre Office's port to Android, but this is delayed by lack of resources. I even found a freebie HP-15C calculator.)

I have also been focussed here at KF on a series of responses to Mr Patrick White, which will continue.

However, I have seen that things are boiling up in the ever turbulent Middle East again, and wish to draw attention to what looks like an Israeli Submarine [cruise?] missile attack guided by intelligence on some advanced anti-shipping missiles sold to Syria by Russia. (Russia here seems to be pretty irresponsible.)

I note,  from a The Weekly Standard article:
An attack two weeks ago that destroyed an advanced Russian missile shipment delivered to Syria’s Assad regime should also serve as a warning to Iran – and to those complacent Western diplomats who have (dangerously in my view) reconciled themselves to the idea of allowing Iran to go nuclear and then trying to contain it. For it seems that the July 5 attack on an arms depot near the Syrian naval base of Latakia, which has been attributed to Israel, came not from the air (as CNN and the New York Times reported last weekend) but from under the water.

Many Western officials who have apparently concluded that Israel could only destroy Iran’s nuclear program from the air – and that Israel does not have the capability to carry out such long-range air strikes in a decisive way – should take note. In recent years, Israel has greatly advanced its sea-based capabilities, and the geographical range of operations that Israel can mount from the sea, I am reliably told, now spans the entire globe. Israeli submarines are no longer confining themselves to the Mediterranean . . . .

When asked in a CBS interview about reports of Israeli responsibility for the Latakia strike, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in line with Israel’s long-standing policy of neither confirming nor denying such actions, said, “Oh God, every time something happens in the Middle East, Israel is accused. I’m not in the habit of saying what we did or we didn’t do. I’ll tell you what my policy is: My policy is to prevent the transfer of dangerous weapons to Hezbollah and other terror groups. And we stand by that policy.”
“The fact that the crisis in Syria is getting worse by the minute is the central consideration in my eyes,” he added. “Syria is disintegrating, and the huge advanced weapons stockpiles are beginning to fall into the hands of different forces.”

Sobering enough, but there is more, on a bigger matter:
The Iran red line . . . now only weeks to go
Even more alarming for Israel, however, is that Iran is said to be only weeks away from crossing Netanyahu’s “red line” of possessing 250 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium – enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb. 
Netanyahu told CBS that Iran was now just 60 kilograms short of crossing this line, and “they should understand that they’re not going to be allowed to cross it.” His assessment is in line with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report in May, which alleged that Iran possessed 182 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium. 
Israel fears that the Iran situation is becoming critical at the exact same time when there has been a lowering of the sense of urgency among many Western officials. Many in the West have become distracted from the Iranian nuclear issue due to a focus on events in Egypt, Syria, and elsewhere, coupled with the election last month of the regime-approved Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s new president, whom Netanyahu called “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” . . . .
Israel believes that a nuclear Shia Islamic regime in Tehran will not only prove to be a threat to the entire region and beyond, but it will almost certainly result in nuclear proliferation among the Sunni powers such as Saudi Arabia (who could simply buy a nuclear arsenal from fellow Sunni Pakistan) and Egypt, states which are liable to become far less stable in future.
 In light of what just happened, perhaps we should reconsider our evaluations of likely Israeli response to such threats:
The Israeli air force has limited flight range while carrying heavy payloads, but submarines can place themselves much closer to Iranian nuclear installations. Iran has sonar capabilities, and has devoted considerable resources to confronting both surface and underwater naval threats, yet it remains vulnerable to both. It is much harder to track the movement of submarines than it is of aircraft.
I would add, that it is known that Israel is a leading aeronautical nation and that terrain-hugging cruise missiles powered by small jet engines can be built with ranges of 1 - 2,000 miles and more. 

Add GPS, inertial navigation and picture recognition technologies and Israeli weapons could target down to the right lab window or ventilation stack. 

So,  as this map shows:

. . . I would see (I) a sub-launched Persian Gulf cruise missile strike.

I would also reckon with (II) the possibility of surface ships carrying containers that launch weapons from out in the Indian Ocean in much larger numbers than might be recognised, once an initial wave of sub launched missiles knocks out Iran's air defence capability. With proper intelligence driven, GPS "in the right window" precision targetting, a lot of precise damage can be done to Iran's nuke programme. 

Before (III), a follw-up wave of low-flying supersonic aircraft wearing blue stars of David arrive to clean up the job, and maybe from unexpected directions, too. (Remember at Entebbe, in 1976, the actual final stage of the rescue came out of Kenya. Frankly, it would not astonish me under the emerging threat of an Iranian nuke attack, to hear -- after the fact of course -- that Israeli aircraft operated from bases in even Saudi Arabia or Iraq or other countries not even on our radar screens now; so worried must the Arab governments be.)

 Such a blow would not eliminate the Iranian capability to get back on its programme, but it would buy precious time for good sense to prevail. But, will good sense prevail in the ever polarised Middle East?

 Iranian brinksmanship has brought the world to a terrible threshold.

And we in the Caribbean need to think about an all but inevitable consequence: skyrocketing oil prices, maybe to double, treble or quadruple present levels of coming on US$ 110/barrel. (These levels are a significant part of the lingering global economic woes since 2008 or so.)

That has happened with previous Middle East conflicts.

Let us take sober warning. END