WASHINGTON- All out nuclear war between Israel and Iran: a doomsday scenario that we all fear deeply. A new study compiled by the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), headed by former Pentagon analyst Anthony H. Cordesman, explored just such a nightmare scenario, noting that it could lead to the death of between 16- 28 million Iranian civilians, and 200-800 thousand Israelis.
This hypothetical, research-oriented study also explored other contingencies for unconventional warfare in our region, noting the tactics that various countries could potentially employ in such instances.
As pertains to nuclear warfare, the study found that an Israeli nuclear scrimmage with Iran would most likely last for about three weeks. Aside from the aforementioned direct casualties, the study could not determine how many additional long-term casualties would arise from fallout and radiation in the weeks and months following such an attack.
One essential requirement for nuclear confrontation in our region, according to the study, is allowing Iran’s nuclear program to develop, unhindered by a pre-emptive strike by either Israel or the United States. If US or Israeli preemption does not occur, the study found, Iran could very well have 30 nuclear warheads available for warfare between 2010-2020. Israel, by comparison, currently has 200 nuclear war heads with both air and sea launch capabilities, according to the study.
Photo courtesy of csis.org
Given certain conditions, Israel could potentially survive such a nuclear scenario, the study found. Iran, on the other hand, would be completely and utterly obliterated. “Iranian recovery is not possible in the normal sense of term, though Israeli recovery is theoretically possible in population and economic terms,” wrote Cordesman, who compiled this study entitled “Iran, Israel, and Nuclear War”.
Israeli missiles have greater strike rangeThe bottom line, according to this study, is that Israel quite simply has more potent and effective bombs. Israel currently has a 1megaton (mt) nuclear bomb, whereas Iran does not yet have the ability to develop a bomb with more than 100 kilotons of power. What this means, in essence, is that the Israeli bomb can lead to three times as many casualties as its Iranian counterpart (chiefly due to third-degree burns), and has an “area of extreme lethality” (the range within which a nuclear bomb is fatal) ten-times as great.
Which Israeli cities are most likely to be targeted by Iran? Tel-Aviv and central Israel (all the way down to Ashdod) are the most likely targets, as is Haifa. Israel, conversely, has more than 10 Iranian cities on its “hit list” including Tehran, Tabriz, Isfahan, Qazvin, Shiraz, Yazd, Kerman, Qom, Ahvaz, and Kermanshah.
Cordseman also noted that Iran would have lower fission yields, and less accurate force into cluster targeting on Israel’s two largest urban complexes, and that the Iranian side would also most likely be thwarted by Israel’s missile defense systems. Notable among these is the “Arrow 2” anti-ballistic missile which could most potentially shoot down most nuclear missiles launched by Iran.
Furthermore, Israel could strike Iran with far grater accuracy and precision, hitting its cities with deadly aim utilizing both its own satellites, as well as those of the United States.
The study also examined what would occur if Syria would join the Israeli-Iranian nuclear fray. Syria, Cordesman estimated, could kill an additional 800 thousand Israelis with missiles armed with chemical or biological warheads. The Syrian side, however, could suffer up to 18 million casualties should Israel respond with a nuclear strike.
If Egypt should join its Arab neighbors in battle, the study finds, Israel would most likely respond with a nuclear strike at Cairo and other major cities, as well as by destroying the Aswan dam.