Israel's Military Options for Iran


One of the aircraft that could be involved in any Israeli strike on Iran: an F-16I (Photo: IAF)

An Israeli military strike on Iran would be difficult, and would not destroy Iran's nuclear ambitions.

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

Israel says it would only reach for the military option as a last resort, but preparations have been in the works for years, according to defense expert, Austin Long.

Long told anchor Lisa Mullins that Israel has acquired an air fleet capable of long range operations.

"The aircraft are referred to as F16i and F15i, with the "I" actually standing for Israel, but some joke that it really should stand for Iran because they've been buying this force structure since the late '90s essentially with the idea of potentially conducting operations against Iran."

Long is an Assistant Professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

The Israelis would have to overcome problems of getting enough firepower to multiple targets, and overcoming Iranian air defenses.

Even then, the most likely outcome is only a partial success.

According to Long, Israelis acknowledge that the best result that they can hope for is to delay the Iranian nuclear project. They compare it to mowing the lawn, in fact says Long, "they refer to it as mowing the nuclear grass."

That worries the US. "There's always the potential," says Long, "that Iranian retaliation will not be merely be limited to Israel".