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Iran and Israel: Military Options for the Nuclear Bomb Dilemma

Updated on February 27, 2011
Satellite photo of the Natanz nuclear site
Satellite photo of the Natanz nuclear site
Iranian aircraft
Iranian aircraft
Typical anti-aircraft units that protect nuclear sites.
Typical anti-aircraft units that protect nuclear sites.
Satellite image of Arak nuclear facility
Satellite image of Arak nuclear facility
Kharg Island
Kharg Island
Map showing possible Israeli air routes to Iran
Map showing possible Israeli air routes to Iran
Map of Iranian Air Defenses
Map of Iranian Air Defenses
Map of Iranian known nuclear production sites
Map of Iranian known nuclear production sites

A Nuclear Iran and the West

A time bomb is ticking. It has been ticking for at least two or more years now. Iran quietly continues to obtain assets allowing them to join the nuclear club- nations with the nuclear bomb, however small. The scenarios that one can concoct are all horrors, there is no good scenario here, unless Iran elects to use it as only an intimidating threat or political leverage. Even that is dubious.

All of the Western nations do not want Iran to obtain it, yet, both Russia and China, as well as many NATO countries have in the past, sold them the technology to get where they are now. Because China imports 15% of its oil from Iran, it refuses to join the rest of the West in shutting down this capability in the UN.

Only Israel is willing to take a single shot at striking Iran from the air, because of geography, even this is messy. Israel would need to fly either through Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Jordan airspace and conduct refueling operations once in mid-air. Since Iran has multiple nuclear sites underground, a choice would have to be made. Intelligence might be inaccurate. The odds of attacking a site with slight capability are great. All the countries that would be flown through are Muslim and privately dislike Israel, yet, fear Iran may get the bomb. Israel would have to make a deal with the countries in order to get permission, it would have to offer something. Most likely would be to make concessions on the Palestinian issue and provide good intelligence that Iran is close. In any attack, Iran may win militarily and politically because it is a peaceful victim of Zionism. Israel could not use its own ballistic missiles because they are not capable of precise targeting and would fail to penetrate the bunkers. The plants at Natanz and Qom are most critical to hit for they are the first step- enrichment. The next most important site is at Isfahan where uranium conversion occurs and fuel production.

A better and easy option would be to destroy Iran's oil production capability since it is all above ground and exposed. Kharg Island is Iran's best oil production site, pumping 5 million barrels of oil daily when at capacity. The usual amount of oil produced by Iran is 2 million barrels daily. This is Iran's major source of money from exports. Without oil exports, Iran has little to offer the world and it would not earn much money in international trade. Without the source of money, Iran's nuclear ambitions would be crippled.


Israel, itself, only has a limited number of F15I, F16I modified aircraft that could make the trip. These are the 69th Sqdn (24 planes) F-15 type; the 107, 119, 201and 253 Sqdns (all F-16), these are first line aircraft - their best. They have eight KC-707 tankers in the 120th Sqdn for refueling. For ECM, they have the Gulfstream V Shavit in the 122nd Sqdn and the unmanned Heron 200th Sqdn.

Iran, has at best, a mediocre, early warning system that is not continuous and comprised mostly of radar dating from the 50s to 70s. Coordination between sectors is poor and all communication is sent to Tehran first before sent to other sectors. They have no early warning aircraft.


28 MiG-29 Fulcrums in two squadrons: 11th, 23rd, 36 F-14A Tomcats in three squadrons: 81st, 82nd, 83rd , 11/48 F-4D/E Phantom II in seven squadrons: 32nd, 33rd, 61st, 62nd, 91st, 92nd, 101st, 58 F-5E/F Freedom Fighter in seven squadrons: 12th, 21st, 22nd, 41st, 42nd, 43rd, 71st, 40 F-7M/FT-7N Airguard in three squadrons: 51st, 52nd, 53rd. The most modern aircraft are the Russian Mig 29's. None compare to the Israelis.

Protecting key areas, Iran has surface to air missiles with long-range S-200VE Vega-E [SA-5b Gammon] at five sites: Three guarding Tehran, one each at Isfhan and Bushehr.

Iran has ballistic missile brigades, with several battalions in each brigade:

– 5th Ra’ad Shahab-3

– 7th Al-Hadid Shahab-1/2, Tondar-68 [M11] 

– 19th Zolfaqar Fateh-110A

– 23rd Towhid Tondar-69 [CSS-8]

These could be fired on Israel, regardless of the nuclear issue, however, all have poor accuracy and can be intercepted in mid-air. Iran could close the Straits where oil moves through, but the World would rectify this quickly. Iran could have its Hezbollah and Hamas also attack Israel. 

In the end, if Israel targets oil production facilities of Iran, destroying them, this would collapse the Iranian regime economically and halt nuclear bomb building. Its young population may just riot over their living conditions and a change of government may occur. Of course, Iran could re-invade Iraq to seize its oil fields.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hey u Israelis use 'hitler' as an excuse to bomb other people! All these neighbours of urs hv been telling u for now 60 yrs not to be aggressors and treat people whose land u occupy fairly. Was that not what hitler did to u? U guys need intensive psychiatic treatment for phobias and negative aggression.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      We agree to disagree.Iran has openly threatened Israel with the nuclear option when they get it. They use hezbollah in Lebanon as its proxy against Israel. They have threatened Bahrain and SA and has infiltrated into the Iraqi government. Appeasement will only cause Iran to continue. There are no good options now or when Hitler was coming to power.

    • CJStone profile image

      Christopher James Stone 

      7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Where do you obtain your facts exactly? From the news media? The news media is bought and sold. Iran is compliant with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: that is just a fact. Israel is not compliant. That is another fact. The threat is Israel, and it is you who who is playing Neville Chamberlain in this story. Iran hasn't attacked another country outside its borders for over 200 years. It has no standing army outside its own territory. Even the CIA assessment of Iranian capabilities shows that it will defend itself aggressively, but it doesn't have either the conventional OR the nuclear capability to attack another country. You are being duped into another war, just like the phony information which was given out prior to the Iraq war.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Oh please, Iran is the threat more than ever. Don't be a Neville Chamberlian

    • CJStone profile image

      Christopher James Stone 

      7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Iran has no nuclear weapons and is compliant with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel, on the other hand, HAs nuclear weapons, and has refused to sign the treaty. So who is the real threat here?

    • crystolite profile image


      7 years ago from Houston TX

      Great info that really widen my knowledge on nuclear bomb

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks, time will tell about this.

    • Shinkicker profile image


      7 years ago from Scotland

      Thanks for the Hub perrya, a realy interesting subject.

      At the time of writing I believe there is still no evidence that Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons. Certainly they want nuclear power which they are entitled to under international law and which they actually need because they cannot prosper on oil alone.

      Hopefuly this controversy will be decided by international diplomacy and negotiations rather than a military strike.

      I am no supporter of the Iranian regime but need to remind people that international law must be upheld and any attack by Israel would therefore be an illegal and dare I say a terrorist act.

      Also just to clear up your last point, it was actually Iran that was invaded by Iraq in 1980. Iran hasn't attacked another country for over 300 years. But you are quite right to point out their support of terrorism by Hezbollah.

      All the best

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      It would be Israel doing the attacking...

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      7 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Attacking Iran would be a huge mistake. We're still in the middle of two futile, costly wars. How many more do you want?


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