Israeli Nuclear & other Arms compared to Iran’s

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came to the US on Monday to lobby Washington against a diplomatic resolution of the conflict over Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program. Netanyahu insisted that Iran’s “military nuclear” program be completely dismantled, even though the UN inspectors continue to certify that no Iranian uranium has been diverted to military purposes. That is, there is no proof that Iran has a “military nuclear” program, and Iran has consistently denied that it is trying to get an atomic bomb. Netanyahu also insisted that the Draconian sanctions on Iran, which are hurting ordinary Iranians’ ability to afford expensive imported medicine be kept in place. Netanyahu’s Iron Wall appears actually to be an iron wall for other people’s children living decent lives.

The irony, which no one wants to talk about, is that Israel has several hundred nuclear warheads, whereas Iran has none. Israel refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or be inspected, whereas Iran has signed and is regularly inspected. Frighteningly, Secretary of State John Kerry recently demanded that Iran’s Fordow facility be opened to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. But Fordow has been regularly inspected! If a worldly US official of such long experience in foreign affairs can make such a serious error because he has swallowed too much propaganda, what hope do we in the alternative media have at correcting the record? US media and even President Obama have now routinely begun referring to Iran’s alleged “announced” desire for a nuclear warhead, something that Iranian authorities have repeatedly denied they want. They say they want what Japan and South Korea have, the ability to fuel nuclear power plants to make electricity. Iran has been demonized in the US. But Israel has repeatedly invaded neighbors and usurped their territory or attempted to. Iran hasn’t invaded another country since at least the 1850s. Despite Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980, Iran has occupied no Iraqi territory nor made any territorial demands. Compare that to Israel’s illegal occupation of Arab territory in 1956 and 1967.

So that the Israel Lobbies and the US Congress have imposed a financial blockade on Iran’s petroleum sales and have so damaged the value of the Iranian currency that the lives of ordinary civilians are being harmed, is viewed by most of the global South as a travesty.

Just to put things in perspective, here is a reprint of a post from last year with pertinent statistics:

… It is worthwhile revisiting the issue of how weak and how much of a nothing the Iranian military is compared to powerhouse Israel. Statistics mostly 2011 from Global Firepower. Note that some comparisons are invidious, as with Israeli reservists, who are quite professional and Iranian reservists, who typically are not. Or, comparing Israeli fighter jets and other aircraft to old broken down Iranian ones is silly. If Israel’s and Iran’s air forces were close enough to tangle (they are not), Iran’s wouldn’t last a day.

Iran Israel Military Comparison (2011)

And here it is as a jpeg in tabular form:

Iran Israel Military Comparison (2)

Posted in Iran,Israel | 21 Responses | Print |

21 Responses

  1. Bibi wants to keep the bogyman of Iran going because:

    (1) Israel wants to be the Middle East’s dominant power (a nuclear Iran would obviously tip the balance of power).

    (2) Israel is afraid the US will begin to align more with Iran and bid farewell to Israel. Iran has a lot more to offer the US than Israel (Oh, and Iran wouldn’t kick sand in everyone’s face and then hide behind the US when the bully comes calling).

    (3) Netanyahu has to make sure his citizens are scared out of their wit, for political reasons.

    (4) Continue to get American tax money too (America is shutting down, but Bibi will make sure to get his checks on time).

    As we all know, according to the Israelis, Iran has been about six months away from having nuclear bombs for the last twenty years.

  2. Hi,
    Under Wars launched on neighbors, 1978 is missing!

  3. Not only does Israel enjoy conventional superiority over all her neighbors combined, she is the only country in the Middle East with hundreds of nuclear weapons. She has had a record of attacking practically all her neighbors, and her policies towards Iran have been very hostile. The Israelis have already attacked Iran with cybertools and sabotaged Iranian centrifuges, have killed Iranian scientists, and constantly threaten to bomb Iran’s nuclear installations.

    Israel is not a party to Chemical Weapons Convention and is widely believed to have produced and stockpiled an extensive range of chemical weapons and is engaged in ongoing research and development of additional chemical weaponry. Israel is also believed to maintain a sophisticated biological weapons program, which is widely thought to include anthrax and more advanced weaponized agents and other toxins, as well as a sizable nuclear weapons arsenal with sophisticated delivery systems.

    Despite all this, they are trying to push the United States to launch a military attack on Iran for having a peaceful enrichment program. Only yesterday, in the joint press conference with Netanyahu, President Obama repeated, “…as President of the United States, I’ve said before and I will repeat that we take no options off the table, including military options…” against Iran. Netanyahu for his part said that, “… the bottom line, again, is that Iran fully dismantles its military nuclear program.” He advised his host that, “pressures must be kept in place. And I think that they should not be lessened until there is verifiable success. And, in fact, it is Israel’s firm belief that if Iran continues to advance its nuclear program during negotiations, the sanctions should be strengthened.”

    Whether Netanyahu will be able to prevent Iranian-US rapprochement or not, the fact is that he will pressurise his friends in the Congress to intensify the sanctions on Iran. However, regardless of Iran, for the sake of peace in the Middle East, including greater security for Israelis, the international community should get serious about setting up new security arrangements in the Middle East that will include a nuclear-free zone. As President Rouhani rightly said, “There are no good hands to hold those bad weapons.” That also applies to Israel.

    • Israel’s desire to acquire nuclear weaponry began with David Ben-Gurion, its first prime minister, and was commenced with a purported good-faith desire to promote peaceful atomic energy production.

      Israel and Turkey were in 1957 the first signatories to the Atoms For Peace program sponsored by President Eisenhower.

      France and Israel entered into a number of co-operation agreements for the advancement of nuclear research and worked on a number of projects in the 1950s and 1960s in which Israeli scientists had unfettered access to the atomic bomb detonation internal reports generated by scientists of the French government.

      France provided technical assistance in the design and construction of the famed Dimona facility. Charles DeGaulle was extremely concerned over the suspicions that the primary intent of Israel being to produce atomic weapons. He eventually terminated all technical support to Israel’s atomic program in 1966.

      Israel in 1958 purchased substantial quantities of “heavy water” needed for nuclear fission from Britain via a Norwegian front company called “Noratom” who charged a 2% commission and the water was delivered to Israel for use at Dimona. The specifics of this transaction were not made public until 2005 and illustrate both British and Israeli officials attempted to hide this sale from international scrutiny via the Noratom entity.

      “Yellowcake” uranium in copious quantities shortly thereafter was purchased from Argentina in the early 1960s.

      In 1961, the Israeli prime minister had told Canadian PM John Diefenbaker that Israel was going to transform the nuclear rods at the Dimona facility to create plutonium- grade products. Intelligence officials concluded that this intent could only be for purposes of creating a fission bomb.

      Members of Israel’s own board governing its internal nuclear development agency overseeing its program had its own suspicions about the intent of the Israeli prime minister and felt that Israel was opening itself up to international vilification if it was going to construct nuclear weaponry.

      It is believed that in 1967-1969, Israel acquired its first A-bombs. Rumor has it that first bomb was “christened” by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and had the words “Never again” weled on the warhead in Hebrew and English.

      The Vela Incident in 1979 was believed to be a joint Israeli-South African detonation of a low-yield nuclear device in the Indian Ocean; it would have been the first Israeli A-bomb test.

      Israel’s nuclear weapons progarm has been, in sum, created via deceit and subterfuge.

  4. The following indicates that Netanyahu should be given very little respect by serious US policy makers:
    -During the Clinton administration, Aaron David Miller “saw Bibi [Netanyahu] as a kind of speed bump that would have to be negotiated along the way until a new Israeli prime minister came along who was more serious about peace. In the words of Miller’s boss, Dennis Ross, ‘neither President Clinton nor Secretary Albright believed that Bibi had any real interest in pursuing peace.’ But every time the Clinton administration tried to drag Netanyahu in the direction of a viable Palestinian state, Netanyahu rallied American Jewish groups and conservative Republicans to his defense.” Netanyahu has remained consistent in his vision. “In 2005, he resigned as Sharon’s finance minister to protest Israel’s dismantling of settlements in Gaza.”
    -In negotiations with the Palestinians in 2010, Netanyahu “refused to discuss the borders of a Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem, or the problem of refugees. Just about the only major issue he would discuss was the security arrangements that would accompany a peace deal.” By November 2010, “the negotiations were officially dead.” The US under Obama would not pressure Israel on the Occupation. The American political reality superseded the costs of Palestinian suffering.
    -In January 2013, Yuval Diskin, chief of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency from 2005 to 2011, “said Netanyahu squandered the gains made by Israel’s security forces by not using a period of relative quiet over the past few years to move toward peace with the Palestinians….Diskin criticized Netanyahu’s lack of movement on peace talks and said there is a chance another Palestinian uprising could break out. ‘The role of the security forces is to create conditions so the political echelon will know what to do with them, and the quiet which was achieved in the last few years is an opportunity that the political echelon should not have missed,’ Diskin said.”
    link to

  5. Israel wants US foreign policy to be conducted purely for Israel’s benefit and goals. The US should rightly direct its foreign policy at protecting US interests, and a rapprochement with Iran, complete with UN inspections and foreign trade, is in line with US interests. We do not need to increase the number of Muslim enemies of the US, but to reduce their number.

  6. Prof. Cole –

    Your graph omits Iran’s support for Hezbollah and Assad, the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires JCC, a history of less than charitable rhetoric toward the Jewish people, the 1979 hostage incidents, etc. The Iranian military may be a joke, but it projects power in many other ways. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

    • all of those types of considerations could be laid against Israel as well. E.g. intelligence support for Baluch rebels of Jundullah who have blown up Shiite mosques. As for Hizbullah, it was created by Israeli occupation and continued Israeli threats to Lebanese territorial integrity.

  7. What many of the comparisons ignore is that thousands of inexpensive, reasonably accurate missiles trump a single very, expensive aircraft and pilot.

    These days, it is easy to make hundreds and possibly thousands of missiles for the cost of one single aircraft, pilot and overhead.

    A missile consists of four basic components all of which are now inexpensive and readily available:

    – Propulsion chemicals – well documented

    – Propulsion fire chamber and nozzle – well documented and can be built by any competent machine shop (the Nazis made V2s in primitive shops with slave labor)

    – Explosive warhead – well documented

    – flight control system – well documented and easy to build for less than US$1000. A flight control system primarily consists of a position determination chip (GPS), a single board computer, and operating system and guidance applications. All of these are very low cost or free thanks to the Open Source community.

    So the reality is the 400 or so aircraft that Israel has are not really a game changer when Iran has thousands of very accurate anti-aircraft missiles to blow them from the sky.

    Just as all the US “magic” military hardware failed miserably in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Israeli military is not as formidable as they think they are and Iran packs a bigger sting than most people acknowledge.

    The bottom line is any war would be foolish and would not accomplish what Israel thinks it will. In fact it could lead to massive, humiliating defeat for Israel and the US. I have heard about three war simulations and in all three the US LOST very badly.

    • Those war simulations would be an interesting read if you have a link to them. As for the military numbers, I believe that Professor Cole is making the point that Iran is not a military powerhouse set to take over the world.

      • Iran’s military strategy since the 1980s has been entirely defensive and can easily be seen by the types and quantity of weapons they buy or design. Look at where Iran has spent their money.

        – after finally defeating Saddam after a long war they were very unprepared for, Iran focused on how to make any future US attack on Iran very costly for the US.

        – Iran looked at the very costly “western” weapons strategies and decided to figure out a way to have lots of inexpensive but reasonably usable weapons.

        – That is why their submarines are small – they can operate where US subs and ships can not operate. Then they equipped their “light weight” subs with very sophisticated super-cavitation torpedoes for which the US has no defense.

        – The same with anti-aircraft defense. They worked with Chinese engineers to develop hypersonic missiles for which he US has no defenses. They “acquired” an S-300 system from a third party and cloned it even before Russia withdrew the sale.

        As you look at each weapon system Iran has, they have concentrated on figuring out where the US is weak and developing weapons that can swarm the US systems, causing their defenses to fail.

        Iran MRBM were developed to provide retaliation strike capability against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Note that Iran already has the capability to land very large explosive conventional warheads on Israel.

        As for the war simulations, they were reported in non-US press several years ago and I did not bookmark the original sources. The simulations did point out the use of the swarm technique with low cost, but reasonably deadly systems. The swarm technique is used because every US military defense system has very real (and often very small) limits on how many threats they can handle. Once a US attack system is overwhelmed it can easily be destroyed by relatively simple devices. This is why Iran can sink US ships of the line with a dozen or more fast speed boats (filled with explosives). While the ship may get some of them, some will always get through and put big holes in the ships.

      • Here’s a few:

        link to

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        link to

        Can’t find the link maybe both of us remember, to War Department simulations that show our vaunted military getting smacked down by “little countries,” in part because of “our” clumsiness and procedure-blindness and being glued to procurement-created sets of war toys and techniques and tactics. The link’s out there. No, I don’t take pleasure in the discomfiture of US Might. Just sorrow at all the enormous waste and idiocy and foolish killing, to what end, again?

  8. Iran has some performing surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles, including anti-ship ones. If it had to use them to try to push back the Israeli bombers and fighter jets in its airspace and territorial waters, I’m afraid Israel might be tempted to go to the next level, the nuke one. Let’s hope some good sense will be forced upon Netanyahoo. And let’s not forget that China and India, and Russia, just to name those three of the BRICS, might react in such a way that the U.S.A. would feel obliged to intervene. Will it be militarily or diplomatically? I say the second alternative, but it should be forced upon Netanyahoo by the U.S.A. and the Israeli electorate right now before that dangerous Israeli Prime Minister puts his threat in force, as he just announced it in the presence of the whole UN General Assembly on top of that, and particularly because no one in there reacted to that illegal move. That absence of reaction might be perceived by Netanyahoo as a silent agreement about his warmongering plans

    • Your caution is very reasonable.

      It is estimated that Israel could lose as many as 65% of any aircraft they send to attack Iran. Not only does Iran have thousands of short range hypersonic anti-aircraft missiles batteries, but Iran also has several operational S-300 clone batteries (Iran got an S-300 system from a third party and cloned it).

      You are correct that Israel could be stupid enough to then try to use nukes, but that would very probably make things very bad for Israel.

      Whenever a nuclear air burst happens millions of tons of very bad contaminates are created. Those contaminants travel with the winds and rain down on other countries. What countries are “down wind” of Iran?

      – China which happens to be a nuclear power with more than enough capacity to completely remove Israel from the earth and still be able to tell the US to shut up and sit down.

      – India which happens to be a nuclear power with more than enough capacity to completely remove Israel from the earth. India does not have the capability to attack the US but could make life for the US very bad anyway.

      – Pakistan is also a nuclear power but does not CURRENTLY have the missile technology to attack Israel. But if they are angry enough, who knows who they would give nukes to for “hand delivery” to Israel.

      – Japan – not a nuclear power but would be screaming at the US to defang Israel by force.

      – The USA – Yes after less than a week, all that radioactive junk would be contaminating the US west coast agriculture – a major world and US food source. I am sure US consumers will be thrilled with Israel right about then.

      I suspect that after a day or so of the US trying to protect Israel, the US would throw Israel to the wolves if China had not already eliminated it.

      The bottom line that Israelis do not like to hear is that Israel can NOT win in any confrontation with Iran. Sure Israel can easily kill as many as several million Iranians, but that will just ensure that Israel will never be safe because the Iranians that survive and many of their fellow Muslims around the world will swear a forever blood oath against Jews. It might take them a few years, but in the end, they would succeed. In the real world, Israel can only make their lives much worse.

      • SPYGUY,

        Thank you for all the additional data on the military vs military threats, forces, performances and final results.

        Indeed nuclear explosions will spread their radiating “black rains” wherever winds and jet streams will head to, and nobody will be able to do anything to divert them. The fast final solution is nuclear, and the not so slow one is environmental. We really have to figure out our ONLY WORLD in a way to be fair for everyone and keep dangers, all dangers, under full control so they won’t happen. Climate wize, let’s just hope we haven’t reached the no-return point…

      • Great points but if China were to “remove” Israel, wouldn’t they be on the receving end of Israel’s Samson Option?

        • Israel’s Samson Option has three components:

          – Medium range ballistic missiles – the Jericho-3 has a range of about 4000 to 6000 km (~3500 miles). The jericho-2 range is much less (3000 km – 1800 miles).

          – Aircraft launched bombs and cruise missiles – the aircraft have very limited ranges without in-light refueling and the weight of either the nuclear bomb or cruise missile causes really bad fuel usage.

          – Sea launched cruise missiles – In both the aircraft delivery and sea delivery of cruise missiles, the launch platform must be within 100 km of the target since the cruise missiles have a very limited range. Israel has five active Dolphin subs and each Sub has 6 (533 mm) and 4 (650 mm) launch tubes. In addition to the ten tubes there is limited space for additional torpedoes or cruise missiles. I suspect that Dolphins are primarily cruise missile launch platforms and may have zero torpedoes. I do not thing dolphins are intended to be used as anti-ship systems.

          – Cruise missiles have very severe weight and size restrictions that limit both the payload and range. If the payload is too heavy, the range is too short. If they go for more range, they have to decrease the size of the payload decreasing the destruction power (yes, I know that even a “small” nuke causes terrible devastation and long term atmospheric damage, but small nukes can cause less deaths). Per the published documents all of Israel’s cruise missile have less than 200 KM range.

          So the bottom line is Israel can not really do anything substantial to China if China decided to use its ICBMs to eliminate Israel in retaliation for Israel contaminating China’s major food production areas in the south.

          After China got done destroying Israel all that would be left would be the Dolphins which would be on the run trying to hide from just about every navy on earth. The dolphins would not find any sanctuary on earth except maybe the US, but US naval bases that could protect the dolphins would be a long distance away from Israel and the dolphins would be very low on diesel real quick. Note that after millions of deaths caused by Israel, the US might not even be willing to do anything more than let the Dolphins surrender to the US and then let the crews be tried as war criminals and executed.

          In the end Israel’s Samson option, while causing massive death will end up being a suicide mission that gets every Jewish person on earth killed, not just the less than half that live in Israel. And after the Jewish culture is destroyed, the surviving humans will go on with life not caring that the Jewish culture was gone, just like the Romans and most of the earth do not care one bit about Masada.

      • @Spyguy:

        I think you have correctly emphasized that China is a real super-power to be reckoned with by the world commmunity.

        It’s military and economic capacity are tremendous.

        Mao Tse-tung once reportedly told a U.S. Comuunist Party official that his country could afford to lose 200,000,000 of its citizens during a war.

        There’s no telling how imposing China could be if they could increase the range and sophistication of their “Long March” rocket.

  9. Israel has been raising the spectre of Iran primarily to deflect criticism over its own conduct with respect to atomic weaponry.

    In 2006, the German industrial concern Thyssen-Krupp concluded a 1.3 billion euro contract to supply Israel with submarines that were capable of delivering nuclear payloads. An additional submarine was ordered in 2009.

    On June 4, 2012, a Der Spiegel investigative report article was published quoting various German and Israeli sources indicating that Israel had deployed advanced submarines equipped with nuclear missile warheads. The proffered justification for this was the purported “danger” of Iran’s
    alleged nuclear weapons program.

    In 2008, the Israel Defense Forces initiated its ICBM system that can deliver payloads over 11,000 kilometers.

    Israel’s “playing to the hilt” of the Iranian “danger” is good public relations to justify its own internal nuclear build-up that threatens the entire region.

  10. Decades have been used to build up a myth that the Israeli military is not an extention of the US military. When I see dribble that the Israeli military might go it alone I know that PURE 100% UNDILUTED EVIL has gone in to creating a situation in which the US President could be publically negotiating with a country in the mid east region and the Israelis can do anything and everything to undercut these negotiations with the story being that the Israelis have the capablity to act independently of the USA.

    God I am such an idiot to think that anyone born and raised in the USA could figure this out or if they did accidently figure it out would really care or if they did figure it out and care would be in a position that they could do anything about it.

  11. French and other international observers have mentioned that Netanyahoo is going on with his anti-Iran claim in the news all the time in order to keep the majority of the Israeli population behind his project and make them forget the poor economic situation in Israel for the last few years.

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