And yet another great guest post from LGF lizardoid minion chicagodudewhotrades:
When will Israel hit the Iranian nuclear program?
I believe that the Israelis will bomb Iran's nuclear weapons program soon. By 'soon' I mean between now and October. Israel views the Iranian bomb as a threat to it's very existence. Israel has only 2 options in dealing with the Iranian bomb: either stop the program, or live life every day with the threat of being wiped off the face of the earth. Living life like that is not viable. I believe the Israelis will launch a attack by themselves. The Israelis don't have to hit every single target that is part of the Iranian nuclear program to succeed. If they inflict enough damage and /or kill enough nuclear technicians to set the Iran bomb project back, that will be a win for them. I don't believe that the US will actively participate in the bombing strikes. If the US is involved it will be on the sidelines in the form of Tanker/Electronic Warfare/Jamming support. The main US participation will be in the form of the US giving overflight rights to the IAF as the strike package flies over Iraqi airspace.
What could be the possible Iranian reactions? That depends honestly on a lot of factors that I'll admit I'm not knowledgeable enough to talk about, but here I go:
The Iranians have publicly stated that if attacked, they will close down the Straits of Hormuz. Yes, the Straits are a pretty narrow chokepoint, but to totally close it down and prevent shipping to exit/enter the Gulf is still a challenge. Their navy is a joke. When the Iranian navy went up against the US Navy in the late 1980's (Operation Preying Mantis) Their navy was soundly thrashed. Today , they have a few ex-Russian Kilo-class subs, but I don't think the overall material condition of the subs and also their crews's training standards are that high. They do have a lot of small fast speedboats . If they load one up with explosives and suicide it into a tanker that will probably kill a tanker. They could get very lucky and sink a tanker right in the straits, but even that outcome will hurt the Iranians too. After all, Iran exports oil out of the gulf just like everybody else. Since the only way the Iranians make money is by exporting oil, their economy will get crushed if the straits are blocked for a long period of time. The Iranians have in the past dumped contact mines into the gulf and damaged a few tankers, but again, if the Iranians succeed with the mines, their own economy takes a hit too.
Since it looks like any Iranian attempt to shut down the Straits will hurt them just as much as everyone else, what other cards can the Iranians play? Iran possesses a number of ground missiles with the range to hit targets across the gulf. they could hit US bases in the gulf. However, we have anti-missile systems like Patriot to handle this threat. Besides, if one of those missiles goes off target and say, instead hits downtown Kuwait City, then the Iranians may have to deal with Israel airstrikes against them turning into other gulf nations taking up arms against them too.
The best course of action the Iranians have is doing something against Israel. They can use their surrogates in Syria and Hezbollah to launch terror attacks in Israel and/or step up the never-ending rocket strikes on Israeli border communities. I don't think the Syrians would launch conventional military attacks across the Golan. But, if they did, the Syrian Military would have a couple very exciting days before getting wiped out. If the Syrians did throw in with the Iranians, the end result would be Merkavas parked on the lawn of the Syrian presidential palace in Damascus and baby Assad taking a one-way flight to Tehran (provided he hadn't already been bombed or his presidential jet smoked out of the sky as he attempted to flee).
Another factor to consider in any Iranian reaction to airstrikes on it's nuclear facility is the Iranian national will to respond to airstrikes. Yes, the Iran nuke program is considered a point of pride by the Iranian people. but, if the Iranian people realize that their nuke program is hurting them they will probably drop support for it. There is already high Inflation and Unemployment along with low Economic growth. The Iranian leadership is already unpopular because of the domestic economic issues, if their desire to possess nukes causes a great deal of national pain...... well, Iran is a country that has had a revolution, nothing says the people can't have a second one to throw out the religious leadership. Granted, Iran is a police state, so a popular overthrow of the government is unlikely but not impossible. There are way too many possibilities to consider when thinking about a popular overthrow of the government (for example, would the Iranian military back up the government or side with the people?) to write about right now. but I do think a popular overthrow of the religious leadership is possible.
What would a attack on Iran's nuclear program mean for the rest of the world? The price of oil will shoot up, that is a given. I could see Crude Oil trading at about $200/barrel in the aftermath of any strike on Iran. Gold and Silver would also shoot higher (for the purposes of full disclosure, I'm a self-employed day-trader, I currently have small buy positions in both gold and silver because of the possibility of strikes on Iran). I think the price of Crude would depend on the amount and type of airstrikes against Iran. Again, this involves too many variables to consider (if the airstrikes are a single day's worth of airstrikes versus a days long campaign, if only Iranian nuke program targets are hit, instead of strikes that include Iranian military targets, if Syria decides to throw down with Iran, etc.).
One other possibility to consider is the effect a strike against Iranian Nuclear assets would have on the coming US presidential contest in November. Once more, there are too many possibilities to write about, but I think the aistrikes would hurt the Obama campaign and the Dems. Why? they stand together against any possibility of domestic oil drilling here. If Oil goes to $200/barrel with the resulting rise in domestic gas prices this will kill any Dem chances to win in November.
To wrap things up, here is where I see things. I believe the Israelis will hit the Iranian Nuclear weapons program soon, within the next few months. Crude Oil prices will move higher in the aftermath of any strikes. Their exact rise and how long they stay at elevated levels involve too many probabilities to figure out fully. Other commodity prices, especially, Gold and Silver will rise also. The range of possibilities in the aftermath of airstrikes goes from no Iranian reaction all the way to a regional war that could include the use of WMD'S. Sorry, this is the best I can do for outcomes. There are just too many things that need to be considered when pondering the aftermath of airstrikes. If you have any thoughts, questions, gripes, etc., feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your time,