Monday, January 08, 2007

The fall-out

A report at the weekend and an article in this week's Spectator both suggest that the Israelis are planning nuclear strikes on Iran's nuclear bomb-making facilities before this year is out. Both articles explain that such action would be justified by President Ahmadinejad's calls for Israel to be wiped off the map. But how likely is it that Iran would bomb Israel?

Israel is a tiny country. The damage done by any nuclear missile hitting the capital, Tel Aviv, would not be confined to Israel. Radioactive fall-out would pollute a larger area - one which potentially includes Jerusalem and Damascus. Jerusalem - where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven - is Islam's most holy city after Mecca and Medina. Syria is an ally of Iran. The West Bank is inhabited by hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs. Many hundreds of thousands more live nearby in Jordan and Syria. Iran would lose the support of them all if it launched a nuclear attack that could render part or all of 'Palestine' uninhabitable and have long-term consequences for a much wider surrounding area. It seems an improbable course of action and a very questionable basis for Israel to justify a pre-emptive nuclear strike of her own.

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