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Originally published in Tikkun Daily |

In a new arms deal reached on Monday, the United States has agreed to sell Israel mid-air refueling tankers. The sale of such tankers, which will make it possible for Israeli planes to reach Iran, was refused by the Bush administration.

The arms deal, which also included specialized missiles for demolishing air defense systems, was praised in public by Defense Secretaries Chuck Hagel and Moshe Yaalon – both of whom mentioned the importance of curtailing Iran's nuclear capabilities.

The Obama administration, however, refused to sell Israel bunker-busting bombs that could penetrate some of Iran's deeply-embedded nuclear sites.

Per The New York Times:

The new weapons sale package includes aircraft for midair refueling and missiles that can cripple an adversary’s air defense system. Both would be critical for Israel if it were to decide on a unilateral attack on Iran.

But what the Israelis wanted most was a weapons system that is missing from the package: a giant bunker-busting bomb designed to penetrate earth and reinforced concrete to destroy deeply buried sites. According to both American and Israeli analysts, it is the only weapon that would have a chance of destroying the Iranian nuclear fuel enrichment center at Fordow, which is buried more than 200 feet under a mountain outside the holy city of Qum.

While the arms deal contains what The New York Times described as a "mixed message" regarding an Israeli strike on Iran, one thing is certain: as a result of the deal, Israel will have an increased logistical capacity to strike Iran if it so chooses.

With this increased capacity came Hagel's strongest statement to date on Iran with Israel in mind:

“Iran will not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Hagel said. “Period.”  
It's clear that the Obama administration is bending with regard to an Israeli strike on Iran. Time will tell how far the U.S. is willing to bend as Israel continues to press for such a strike.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (21+ / 0-)

    "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

    by David Harris Gershon on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:43:13 PM PDT

  •  Why are we selling them tankers. Can't they (0+ / 0-)

    buy direct from Airbus?

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:48:01 PM PDT

  •  Seems like the U.S. (3+ / 0-)

    and Israel are involved in a regional good cop/bad cop routine with Iran. By giving Israel mid-air refueling tankers, the U.S. makes Israel's bad cop more menacing.
    Now Obama gets to say, talk to me cause, believe me, you don't while to deal with my crazy partner over here.

  •  This sale "was refused by the Bush administration" (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poco, corvo, brasilaaron, mickT, 420 forever

    Distressing, what this says about Obama. And he started off his first term trying to do right by Palestine (well, at least to make things better), and to expect Israel to be more fair and reasonable in their foreign policy.

    The implications for the whole Iran situation are ugly and very frightening. The way the US is trying to paint Iran as a rogue state, when so few other countries in the world want to play this kind of dangerous hardball, reminds me of the PR campaign against Saddam before our greatest mistake in the mid-East, so far.

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:26:00 PM PDT

  •  Iran is said to have a 747 tanker . (0+ / 0-)

    If Israel wants tankers , they can buy used 737s and make as many as they want , they could buy used 747s and make tankers .

    Drop the name-calling MB 2/4/11 + Please try to use ratings properly! Kos 9/9/11

    by indycam on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:30:32 PM PDT

  •  looking at the geography of the area, (6+ / 0-)

    wonder what route bombers would follow, even with midair fueling.  After all, Israel would have to  have permission to encroach on foreign airspace in theory and any Arab country could be sure permitting an fly over by Israel to attack Iran would cause Iranian retaliation.  

    For that matter, such a strike would give Iran a reason to release its proxies in Lebanon and Syria as well as the OT and Gaza as well as blocking off the Straits of Hormuz.  Iran has anticipated such a strike for years and has devised a retaliatory strategy using conventional and asymmetrical means.  Since I assume such a strike would not be followed by an invasion, the estimates I have seen predict world oil prices could skyrocket to $500/bb  

    •  Le Figaro is reporting that Jordan has (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poco, corvo, mickT, AoT

      opened its airspace to Israeli aircraft (drones) so that Israel can more easily monitor what is happening in Syria.

      http://www.upi.com/...

      http://www.haaretz.com/...

      Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

      by InAntalya on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:54:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Jordan and Turkey will do more or less (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      InAntalya, Brecht, mickT, charliehall2

      anything we ask of them, if we even bother to ask.  Iraqi airspace is still ours.  We're working on acquiring Syrian airspace.

      Any questions?

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:29:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's why Turkey let the 4th Inf Div pass through (5+ / 0-)

        Oops. Turns out turkey did not let the 4th Inf pass through to attack Iraq from the north. Despite a $28B bribe, Turkey did not. Nor has Turkey evacuated from Cyprus.

        Hmm. Seems Turkey acts in Turkey's own self-interest.

        Jordan too. But Joedan is the one nation between Israel and Iran which Israel could theoretically get past - at least for purposes of debating if an attack is imminent. Problem with over-flying Jordan is... Israel still has to overfly Iraq or Saudi Arabia to reach Iran. And no nation bordering Iran is going to let itself take Iran's retaliation blows just so Isreal can start a war in the region.

        •  Obviously (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brecht

          we didn't offer Turkey enough then.  We must be doing something right now, to judge from the elaborate kiss-and-make-up going on between the two countries.  Why, looky, the Knesset isn't even debating recognition of the Armenian genocide anymore. :-)

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:57:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  and as I implied earlier, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Quicklund, charliehall2

          in terms of sovereign airspace, there is no Iraq.

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:58:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  True in practice (0+ / 0-)

            The Iraqi Air Force exists only as an F-16 pilot training program in (IIRC) Arizona. Iraq has no jet fighters to fly to shoot down intruding Israeli aircraft.

            Which means Iran would (ightly) blame the USA for allowing the attack to occur through Iraq. Which means the USA would be in a shooting war the USA does not want.

            So once again, if such a shooting war does start it will be only when the USA has geared up for that war. The notion that Israel will start this war on her own is really a non-starter. Netanyahu likes to rattle the sabre... but in this case it is just a prop.

            •  Not quite (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Quicklund

              Iraq would have no trouble discovering that its air space was being violated and would have no trouble figuring out why.  Even the fastest jet in the world cant outrun a radio/telephone call/email/text.  You can bet the Iraqis would let the Iranians know there was trouble on the way.  

              Any attack on Iran would rely in surprise and that surprise would be gone.

              It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

              by ksuwildkat on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:12:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  fly through Iraqi airspace and our "allies" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Quicklund, AoT

            will unleash their militias against every US installation in the country.  Don't forget that they have not forgotten who gave them refuge during those long dark years when the US played footsie with Saddam.  Heck the US even encouraged the abortive Shia' revolt during Desert Storm and left them to die a la Bay of Pigs style when Saddam unleashed his Republican Guards and the poison gas  

          •  Israel can violate Iraqi airspace with impunity (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ChadmanFL

            as Iraq remains in a state of "hot war" with Israel. It could even legally take out some targets in Iraq itself while on the way. That is why the Osirak reactor attack was legal.

    •  Here is a short video discussing flight routes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      InAntalya, entlord, AoT

      It's buried in a diary but it is in there. I found it when I was looking for a map to illustrate flight routes. Instead I found this blogger-type video with an even better overview than just that. It seems pretty well informed, thought they do give the wrong weight for a bunker-buster bomb. I call that a typo-level error - insignificant.

      Bottom line you are correct that the countries lying in between would not give permission, because Iran would (rightly) see that permission as compliance in the attack. And Iran and make life hellish for both Saudi and Iraqi interests. Probably for Turkey too.

      St any rate there will be no attack on Iran until and unless the United States is leading the attack full-bore. Israel cannot do it herself and her pros know that.

      •  my goodness we are in agreement with a (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Quicklund, AoT

        strategic question.  I would point out also Iranian plans to sink oil tankers the second there is an attack should they not be able to take out any US naval interests.  Any naval assault would lead to an ecological disaster that would dwarf anything we have seen.

        If for no other reason, there must be no attack simply for the sake of the planet

        •  With their Ballistic Missile capability (0+ / 0-)

          It's likely that any naval attack would see serious damage. Most likely lost carriers. This is one of the reasons we won't be going to war with Iran, we don't go to war with countries that can seriously injure us.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 11:43:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  even if not carriers, then the escort screen is a (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT

            target rich environment.  While the USS Cole was at mooring, it was still hit by a couple of guys in a rubber boat. Iran was watching and taking notes if you note their latest naval maneuvers.  Their OEM missiles are modeled on the Chinese Silkworms which would be a worry for any navy in in narrow (dire) straits  

  •  Another successful step towards winning hearts (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mickT, AoT

    and minds in the region.

    /s

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:39:39 PM PDT

  •  Isn't this part of a 'package deal' where (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poco, whizdom, corvo, Deward Hastings, Brecht, AoT

    Israel, Saudi Arabia and I think Qatar are being sold $5 billion worth of weapons / military equipment each?

    Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

    by InAntalya on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:58:20 PM PDT

    •  yup (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      InAntalya, corvo, Deward Hastings, poco

      UAE, I think.  The game is "qualitative military edge"   whenever we sell advanced arms to non israeli countries in the region, we have to, by law, ensure Israel gets as much, or better.  

    •  always the "peaceful solution", eh? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, mickT

      Israel needs mid-air refueling for one and only one reason . . . aggression (well) outside it's borders.  There is no use for them except to violate the UN Charter and start a war.

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:34:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Adding $15 billion of military equipment to (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvo, poco, Deward Hastings, Brecht, mickT

        the region might be considered to be a solution to something by some but it doesn't seem very peaceful to me.

        Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

        by InAntalya on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:43:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  if its at our prices, yes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          charliehall2

          When was the last war between Israel and its neighbors?  Compare 1948-1979 and 1979-present day.  The first 31 years the region was in a nearly constant state of war.  In the 34 years since Camp David it has been peaceful (at least in the state vs state realm).

          Remember, when you sell the guns, you buy control.  

          It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

          by ksuwildkat on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:39:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Bullplop (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ksuwildkat, livosh1

        Midair refulling is a key part of sustaining an airforce in combat operations. Landing/takeoff cycles costs a lot of fuel and time. Mid-air refuling is used for offense, defense, and routine patrolling. It is a day-to-day activity, not just a feature of deep offensive strikes.

        •  So just because (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poco

          Netanyahu keeps asking:

          "Can I attack Iran now?"
          "What about now?"
          "What about now?"
          "What about now?"

          I shouldn't worry. Got it. I feel much better now.

          If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

          by Major Kong on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:15:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Making a narrow point (0+ / 0-)

            Tankers are used for many things other than to support deep strikes.

            •  I know (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PrahaPartizan, Quicklund

              I flew them for 13 years : )

              If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

              by Major Kong on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 04:24:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I've read the travelogs :) (0+ / 0-)

                You describe the experience well. Even the boring parts sound interesting. Like a flying Peter O'Brien novel.

                Random YouTube clicking led me to this video. It's about a long-range British bombing raid during the Falklands war. But really it is about a massive air refueling mission. Well over a dozen tankers were flown to get one bomber on target. If you've not seen it you might find it worth the 45 minutes.

    •  Gulf Security Dialog (0+ / 0-)

      No, this is separate from that.  

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:39:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's clear is it? (10+ / 0-)
    It's clear that the Obama administration is bending with regard to an Israeli strike on Iran. Time will tell how far the U.S. is willing to bend as Israel continues to press for such a strike.
    No, this is not at all clear. Clearly, this is an assumption too far.

    Both tanker aircraft and ant-radiation missiles are common stock for modern air forces. 30,000 bunker buster bombs are not. Which system was Israel denied? Oh yeah ... the only system with the one specific potential target of Iran was the one system denied.

    Israel currently has between 8 and 11 air refuling planes. About half of them are old 707 variants and the other half even older, slower, smaller KC-130 variants. These designs are over 50 to 60 years old. Newer aircraft are not in themselves a sinister sign.

    Anti-radiation missiles are a standard part of an air force arsenal. Israel itself has produced these missile on her own before. Buying these missiles does not give Israel a capability she already did not have.

    Not to mention the delivery time for such orders is generally spread over several years. These planes are not even built yet, yet they are going to lead an imminent blitz on Iran? Think it out.

    At the end of the day, Israel will still have the same ability to attack Iran as before: virtually none. She cannot deliver the heaviest bombs needed - which she does not own either. She would still be attacking at the end of a long approach over hostile territory on low fuel. Such at attack would likely suffer large losses and accomplish nothing significant.

    Israeli generals know this. American generals know this. Neither Iraq nor Turkey nor Saudi Arabia will give Israel permission to over-fly on the way to attacking Iran.

    So please, enough of these the-Iran-war-is-going-to-start conclusions .

    •  Excellent Analysis!!! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Quicklund

      Ill add that the Iranians are NOT the Iraqis.  Unlike Saddam, they have not put all their eggs in one basket in the middle of the desert.  The Iranian program is spread out over a vast array of facilities, many of which are located in or near large towns.  Any strike would need to hit them all to ensure success.  Additionally the hardened nature of the facilities would require lots of explosive power and result in tremendous collateral damage.  It would be a PR nightmare if it was successful and the chances of success are very very very low.  The Israelis are not idiots and are not going to risk their very existence as a nation on a low probability of success act.

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:30:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They will risk it (0+ / 0-)

        as soon as their intelligence indicates that Iran is close to having a nuclear weapon. The "wipe of the map" comment changed the whole ballgame.

        And don't give me the nonsense that Ahmadinejad didn't say it. His own government's official translation had it that way, and that was enough for the rest of the world. Iran may regret such jingoism. (And why is it that only Israel gets blasted here for jingoism?)

        •  I dont think you understand (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PrahaPartizan, AoT

          the size of the task.  

          Its 200 aircraft to do it on the cheap.  If I were planning it I would used 300 plus another 100 just to do the SEAD (Suppression of enemy air defense).  Back that up with about 200 cruise missiles for insurance and to cover egress.

          Those 200-300 aircraft need to be coordinated so they strike almost at the exact same time.  That means taking off from somewhere close and airborne C2.  That means either from the Gulf (aircraft carrier) or a Gulf state.  They have no aircraft carrier so they are down to finding a Gulf state that will let them use facilities.

          Since Israel lacks the assets to do the mission on their own, they would require partners.

          There is one country on the planet that can do this on their own.  Vote carefully.

          It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

          by ksuwildkat on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 10:10:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  And some wonder why we are not respected in the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mickT, 420 forever, AoT

    pursuit of peace in the Middle East by many??  We aren't a honest broker in the deal.  Our position is loud and clear.

    “The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.” - Voltaire.

    by LamontCranston on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:04:16 PM PDT

  •  Israel already has tankers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    charliehall2

    They have home-grown 707 tankers.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:13:23 PM PDT

  •  You are looking the wrong way (0+ / 0-)

    Forget looking east toward Iran, look South and West.  And forget about F-16.  Think F-15s.

    This is about Sudan, Egypt and Libya.  

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:23:01 PM PDT

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