Drudge Report is splashing the news that the Sunday Times of London plans on reporting that Israel is planning a nuclear strike against Iran to head off Iran’s nuclear ambitions. According to Drudge:

Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons, the SUNDAY TIMES of London is planning to report, British media sources tell DRUDGE…

At first glance, the entire story smells of a fabrication. The obvious reason being that if Israel had secret plans to nuke Iran, they likely wouldn’t have been leaked. If they did get leaked, the police better start dredging the Sea of Galilee for the bodies of those involved. More importantly this leak gives huge benefits to Iran.

Israel is not stupid. A tactical nuclear weapon would likely do very little for a protected underground bunker. It is possible that either Drudge or the London Times doesn’t know precisely what a tactical nuclear weapon is. However, the fact remains in order to really do damage to the facility an ICBM (a strategic nuclear weapons) would need to be used. The momentum of a missile coming down from low earth orbit would be necessary to burrow deep enough to do the damage desired. There is indication that even then, the strike might not be successful.

One simulation indicated it would require 400 or so missiles to do the job. At best, entrances and exits from the underground facility could be collapses and that would certainly delay the program. The radiation from the strikes would need to dissipate and the tunnels would have to be rebuilt. It is possible such a strike could be times when Iran’s nuclear weapons were being brought above ground, but that would be extremely difficult to pull off.

Iran’s move to build its nuclear program underground was brilliant. They learned the lessons of Iraq in 1981. However, the key defense of the move is also its biggest weakness. Namely, any nuclear weapon developed underground could not be used until it is brought above ground at already known locations. A nuclear strike at those locations would keep the weapons out of Iranian hands underneath irradiated soil. That move, however, is only a temporary solution.

It is likely that both Israel and the US have drawn up simulations and plans but every indication is that they are a last resort. The other fact is that these plans aren’t precisely secret, at least in general. Leaking the plans now, just shortly after sanctions have been levied against Iran indicate that the plans were likely not coming from Israel.

Iran’s general tactic has been to run the clock and delay as much as possible. This indicates that they are likely very close to being finished making nuclear weapons which would change the dynamics of diplomacy greatly. They have every incentive to keep stalling until they’ve met that landmark.

This plan, being leaked now in the way it was only gives more cover to Iran. The international community and human rights groups will likely jump all over Israel and demand investigations and action. Despite basically looking the other way of actual genocide going on in Darfur, they’ll jump to action on the rumor of a hypothetical “genocide.” We’ll skip past the international community’s non-response over Iran’s very public desire to commit genocide against Israel.

This leaking has every indication that it was done by Iran, or a supporter or Iran, to give more cover and time. While international eyes are peering at Israel, Iran’s program will continue undeterred.

John Bambenek is the Assistant Politics Editor for BC Magazine and is an academic professional for the University of Illinois. He is a syndicated columnist who blogs at Part-Time Pundit and the executive director of The Tumaini Foundation which helps AIDS orphans and other children in Tanzania to get an education. He is the current owner of BlogSoldiers, a blog-only traffic exchange.

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