Israel completes preparations for an attack against Iran
by Maurizio d’Orlando
In a note to Congress, US Defense Department reveals Israel bought huge amounts of fuel for jet planes and land forces. In Jerusalem, debate heats up over the suitability of an attack against Iran’s nuclear reactors. In Tehran meanwhile, leaders continue to favour nuclear energy because of US embargo on oil refining technology.

Milan (AsiaNews) – Many signs point to Israel preparing an attack against Iran or a new offensive in southern Lebanon against Hizbollah. This can be inferred from logistical and military procurements by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the last few weeks,

Israel in early August ordered 284 million gallons of JP8 aviation fuel, a special kerosene-based jet fuel suitable for military use only, plus 100 million gallons of diesel fuel and 60 million of unleaded gasoline, also for military use. The total bill is expected to reach US$ 2 billion.

News about the purchase came on 5 August when the US Defense Department’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA)[1] issued a statement to that effect in accordance with US laws. In its request to Congress to approve the sale, the DSCA noted, “The proposed sale of the JP-B aviation fuel will enable Israel to maintain the operational capability of its aircraft inventory. The unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel will be used for ground forces' vehicles and other equipment used in keeping peace and security in the region. Israel will have no difficulty absorbing this additional fuel into its armed forces.”

By comparison, the last fuel order the State of Israel placed with the United States was on 15 July 2008, when it ordered 186 million gallons of JP-8 aviation jet fuel, 54 million gallons of diesel fuel and 28 million gallons of unleaded gasoline at an estimated cost of .3 billion.

Before that, on 24 August 2007, Israel had ordered 90 million gallons of JP-8 fuel and 42 million gallons of diesel fuel, for an estimated cost of US$ 308 million. Further back, on 14 July 2006, it had ordered an unspecified amount of JP-8 fuel, for an estimated cost of US$ 210 million.

The increase in US fuel supplies to Israel is plain for all to see, between 2006 and 2010 it went up tenfold.

Israel´s last two military operations were the Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, which lasted a little over a month, and Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza from 27 December 2008 to 21 January 2009.

Since early August, tensions in the Middle East have been rising after the Bushehr civilian nuclear power plant became operational with Russian technological assistance.

John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations and a fervent supporter of Israeli policies, called for military action before the plant was up and running. He said that once fuel was loaded into the reactor, any attack would trigger widespread radiation among the civilian population.

However, President Barack Obama’s top adviser on nuclear issues, Gary Samore, said[2] that the US administration is trying to cool down tensions. He believes it would take Iran roughly a year to turn low-enriched uranium into weapons-grade material. [3]

In Israel, the debate over the issue is proceeding apace with some factions pushing for military action right away. For instance, Caroline B. Glick, an editorial writer for the Jerusalem Post, wrote, “From a military perspective, the longer Israel waits to attack Iran, the harder it will become to accomplish the mission.” [4] Pointing the finger at Israel’s Defence minister for the situation, she writes that Ehud “Barak’s strategic ineptitude is legendary.

The Jerusalem Post also reported that Frederick Hoff, [5] assistant to US Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell, told Lebanese Army chief of staff Jean Kahwaji that Israel was ready to implement a plan to destroy within four hours all Lebanese military infrastructures, including army bases and offices, should another border-fire incident occur between Lebanese military and the IDF.

For its part, Iran is not waiting to flex its muscles, not only in relation to the Bushehr plant, but also in weapons development. It recently test-fired a third generation Fateh 110 missile, and announced an unmanned bomber drone with a range of 620 miles.

Amid the beating of war drums and notwithstanding the posturing of the various parties, the situation calls for closer scrutiny. Iran’s intentions, which some Israeli factions believe to include nuclear weapons, are not so much at stake here since Israel’s military supremacy is overwhelming in terms of conventional and nuclear weapons. What is at stake is its potential. Indeed, the current Israeli (and US) hegemony in the region is threatened by the economic and demographic growth of nations that are culturally opposed to them and politically unshackled. That was the case a few years ago for Iraq under Saddam Hussein and is the case today for Iran under Ahmadinejad.

Iran’s programme to build nuclear reactors stems from real needs for energy. In order to develop the country, Iranian leaders know they need more energy. They also know that they must keep a lid on new generations that are frustrated by unemployment, full of curiosity for the West and gradually losing sight of the ideals that underpinned the Islamic Revolution that brought down the shah and led to Khomeini’s regime.

As much as Iran floats on huge oil reserves, its development is stifled by a lack of fuel. Upgrading its oil refining and thermoelectric generating capacity might seem the most logical solution, but it is not the chosen one.

In the end, what we have is a convergence of opposites. On the one hand, the United States does not want Iran to get new oil refining technology. On the other, Iranian leaders prefer nuclear power to thermoelectric power in order to rally the people and point the finger at the unjust foreign hostility towards their nation.

All these ingredients, which everyone liberally handed out, can lead to a big blast.  Ultimately, elites on either side of the fence gain from the confrontation. No doubt, the same is not true for their respective populations.


[1] See DSCA News Release, Israel – Unleaded Gasoline, JP-8 Aviation Jet Fuel, and Diesel Fuel, retrieved on 2 September 2010.

[2] See Mark Mazzetti andDavid E. Sanger, “Iran’s nuclear threat not imminent, U.S. says”, in The Globe and Mail, 20 August 2010.

[3] Iran possesses uranium with 3 per cent fissile material, whilst power generating plants need higher concentrations, up to 20 per cent, which Russia is currently providing. Military-grade uranium requires 80 per cent concentrations that are normally achieved through special centrifuges.

[4] See Caroline B. Glick, “Our World: Accepting the unacceptable,” in the Jerusalem Post, 27 August 2010.

[5] See JP Staff, “Israel ready to destroy LAF in 4 hours,” in the Jerusalem Post, 27 August 2010.