Israel and Iran

The leak-and-counter-leak narrative for the prospective Israel-Iran conflict continues with the latest alleged plans for an Israeli strike being "leaked":

Richard Silverstein told the BBC he had been given an internal briefing memo for Israel's eight-member security cabinet, which outlined what the Israeli military would do to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons.

My conjecture is that Israel's operational security is actually rather good on average, and there's no reason to think that these plans bear any relationship to a) what's actually being planned, or b) what's going to happen. Mr. Silverstein may believe that his memo relates to actual Cabinet discussions, but I wouldn't bet a penny that we're being allowed to find out any more than the Cabinet in question wants us to find out. I note that the US government isn't being told any more than the public is being told; I base this assertion on the unfortunate tendency of various USA officials to leak any interesting snippet of classified military information in a New York (Washington DC?) minute.

As Michael Ledeen wrote about whether the Israeli strike is imminent:

I don't know, and I don’t know if anyone around here — including Petraeus and Panetta — knows. The one thing I do know is that in order to answer the "will they or won't they?" question, you’ve got to know what the Israelis think they know about the Iranians.
Which you don't. Nor I. So shut up and stop sucking your thumb.

There are four very distinct sets of information:

  1. What the Israeli military is actually planning;
  2. What the Israeli military would like people to think it is planning;
  3. What the Israeli military believes about Iran's facilities;
  4. What the Israeli military would like people to believe it believes about Iran's facilities.
If I were one of the planners (and let me take this opportunity to assure my audience that I am not) I would be keen to leak a number of plausible variants of a plan to the media; not so much to mislead the Iranian military about my plans as to pre-emptively muddy the waters in case some aspects of the actual plan were to leak.

So what's this alleged plan?

The purported leaked Israeli memo suggests that the military operation would begin with a massive cyber-attack against Iran's infrastructure, followed by a barrage of ballistic missiles launched at its nuclear facilities.
My arse. I can believe some aspects of the cyber-attack idea, but it's unlikely to be "massive"; more likely subtle and very directed, in order to avoid any advance warning of hostilities. Ballistic missiles will do sod all damage against hardened buried targets like most of Iran's facilities, unless you stick a nuclear warhead on them.

The most likely actual attack against Iran is going to be an approach that hasn't been widely publically discussed. I have my own conjectures on the matter but will keep them under my hat. Of course, the issues about Iranian retaliation and likely Israeli casualties discussed in the leak still stand - even if the Iranians aren't sure what happened, they'll blame Israel - and so the leak serves a useful secondary purpose in informing the Iranians that the Israelis are quite prepared to take civilian casualties as a consequence of their actions.

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