Only the blow of the USA and Israel can stop it. But Russia is hindering surprise attacks
From the Middle East, the Apocalypse is drawing more and more distinctly. Another visible evidence of this on January 7, 2020, in the midst of Orthodox Christmas celebrations, was the sudden arrival of President Vladimir Putin to Syria and his unplanned meeting with the head of this country, Bashar Assad.
And on the night of January 8, Iran announced a massive missile attack on an American military base deployed in Iraq’s Ain al-Assad. Iranian state television channels call the operation revenge for the assassination of General Kassem Suleimani.
But first things first.
At first, in response to the American killing of Soleimani, Iran announced its unilateral rejection of the last remaining major restriction on the development of its nuclear program under the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA) – on the number of centrifuges working to enrich uranium. Thus, Tehran eloquently demonstrated to the whole world the desire, literally in a matter of months, to bring to life the main nightmare of Israel and the United States – to get their first atomic bomb.
Those who played Fallout games can easily remember their favourite moments.
What in reality does the army of Iran have in order to fully take revenge on the United States?
President Donald Trump reacted to this demarche instantly and without a shadow of doubt. About the same way as he a few days ago frivolously ordered the liquidation of Suleymani. On his Twitter, Trump wrote: “Iran will never have nuclear weapons.”
Obviously, so that this does not look like empty bravado, on January 7, the Pentagon began to transfer strategic B-52 bombers from their main air base Barksdale in Louisiana to the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. On the same day, the first six huge combat vehicles made a transcontinental flight.
And in Utah at Hill Airbase, the most ambitious maneuvers were conducted with the participation of fifth-generation multi-role fighters F-35, which are part of the 88th and 419th fighter regiments. 52 aircraft were simultaneously lifted into the air at once. Measures were worked out to inflict damage to the land-based air defense systems of the conditional enemy.
At the same time, the Israeli army was brought to a higher degree of combat readiness. Which, in such a political context, seems quite logical: except for massive air strikes, the Iranian nuclear program, apparently, cannot be stopped now by anyone.
In anticipation of a response from the Persians on the same day, the US Maritime Administration issued an official warning to the captains of all commercial vessels in connection with threats from Iran in the Middle East. The document says: “The Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean are a threat to commercial vessels from Iran and its puppets.”
According to the Arab edition of Al-Mayadin, in order to avoid being hit by coastal-based Iranian anti-ship missiles, the order to immediately depart for several hundred kilometers from the coast of the Strait of Hormuz was received by American warships led by the aircraft carrier Harry Truman. The order has already been readily executed.
Tehran seems to understand what all this smells like for him. And, it seems, he is trying in every possible way to delay the almost inevitable denouement. The country’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Majid Taht-Ravanchi, said that Iran, it turns out, is not at all seeking possession of nuclear weapons, despite the unauthorized termination of the nuclear deal. Here is a quote from an interview with the Permanent Representative to PBS: “No, we are not interested in creating nuclear weapons. We have a very clear religious ban on nuclear weapons from our supreme leader. ”
But then why these threatening and demonstrative “movements” with centrifuges? Let me remind you: according to the agreement of 2015, which flied at the initiative of Trump, Iran committed to store no more than 2% of its enriched uranium in the country (this is only about 300 kilograms). And also, to reduce the number of centrifuges used from 20,000 to 5,000 units and not to produce enriched uranium suitable for creating a nuclear charge. In exchange for signing these restrictions by the West, the Iranian government’s accounts with foreign banks totaling over $ 100 billion were unfrozen.
Of course, Tehran has long ago hid its billions somewhere more reliable. Otherwise, the agreement has not been working for a long time. Back in November 2019, President Hassan Rouhani announced the start of gas injection into centrifuges at the uranium enrichment plant in Fordo at the level of 5%. According to the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, before the conclusion of a nuclear deal in 2015, uranium was enriched at the Fordo facility up to 20%.
After the assassination of Soleimani, nothing prevents Iran from secretly returning its terrible plant for Americans and Israelis to a long-mastered level of work. What then?
It was calculated: the plant is capable of producing such a level of purity at a rate of up to 43 kilograms per month. To create one full nuclear charge requires approximately 250 kilograms. It turns out that the first “holy bomb” or whatever may appear in five to six months. Somewhere – by the summer-autumn of 2020.
As for the religious ban of the spiritual leader on the creation of nuclear weapons … Today, he may indeed be, this ban. And tomorrow, when the technical conditions in Fordo ripen, the testament of the chief Ayatollah can be replaced by exactly the opposite. In the end, the Persians still need some time to accumulate the necessary amount of uranium enriched to a sufficient degree. Prior to this, it is possible (and even necessary, from the point of view of big politics) to assure the UN of anything!
It is unlikely that the United States and Israel will remain silent and submissive spectators in this very dramatic theater. A land invasion of Iran to eliminate the nuclear threat from the collective West is absolutely ruled out. Too strong, trained and well equipped with modern weapons, the 350,000th army of Persians. In addition, a significant part of it gained valuable combat experience during the fighting in Syria.
According to the overseas publication of The National Interest, several types of weapons that Iran has are “deadly” for the US military. These are Sajjil ballistic missiles with a range of up to 2500 kilometers, Gadir submarines, Khalidzh-e Fars anti-ship missiles, and Russian S-300 air defense systems.
And in neighboring Iraq, Americans have long been deservedly disliked. Rather, in such a purely hypothetical military conflict, present Baghdad would side with any US adversary in the Middle East. Which would dramatically expand the spatial framework of such a war.
What remains is the only relative quick and relatively reliable solution to Iran’s nuclear problem – an instant, crushing and joint aerospace operation with Israel to completely destroy Iran’s entire nuclear industry. But here everything looks very shaky for the Pentagon.
According to Scott Johnson, an analyst at HIS Jane`s consulting firm, who several years ago assessed the possible risks ordered by the US military, with this turn of events, the allies will have to attack four main facilities in Iran – enrichment plants in Natanz and Fordo, a reactor for the production of “heavy water ”in Arak and a factory for the production of uranium hexafluoride in Isfahan. But even here the chances of success of the operation are not great.
Firstly, the main “splinter” for Americans and Israelis – the enrichment plant in Fordo – is very prudently arranged in the depths of a powerful cliff. And the main facilities of the Natanz plant are protected by concrete caps up to 10 meters thick.
Secondly, in order for, say, Israelis to attack nuclear facilities in Iran, their planes have to fly at least one of two routes. Or using air corridors over Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Or choose the path that goes over Jordan and Iraq. In both cases, you can not do without refueling in the air. In addition, given the US political problems with Turkey and Iraq, it is hardly possible to count on the hospitality of their airspace. This alone unambiguously removes Israeli aviation from the game. Only the United States remains. And the most dangerous for Iran is the direction of the strike from the Indian Ocean. That is – just from where the first American strategic bombers flew on January 7th.
Washington threatens not only Tehran, but also Moscow.
Thirdly, since 2016, the combat capabilities of Iran’s air defense system have grown significantly. This happened after Russia, after long doubts of a political nature, nevertheless delivered four divisions of the very modern anti-aircraft missile S-300 PMU-2 to this country. The time elapsed since that time was enough for the combat crews of the Persians to reliably master this complex weapon.
Fourthly, it is worth paying special attention to the urgent telephone conversation of the Minister of Defense of Russia Sergey Shoigu on January 6, 2020 with the chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Iran Mohammad Bagheri and the director of the national intelligence organization of the Republic of Turkey Hakan Fidan. As the Russian Ministry of Defense said sparingly in this regard, the military leaders discussed “practical steps to prevent the escalation of the situation in Syria and the Middle East region in connection with the assassination of General Kassem Suleimani, commander of the al-Quds special forces, near Baghdad.”
But the demonstration of determination on the part of Moscow was not limited to this. Sensationally postponing the Christmas celebration on January 7 to Damascus, whose close relationship with Tehran has long been obvious to everyone, as already mentioned, Russian President Vladimir Putin escaped urgently, accompanied by Su-35 fighters. Together with Shoigu, the head of our state “went to the command post of a group of forces of the Armed forces of the Russian Federation in the Syrian Arab Republic, drove through the streets of Damascus.” The Kremlin press service informed about this.
What can be “practical steps” on our part in the current situation? Moscow, of course, will not openly intervene with military force in the impending conflict between the United States and Iran. But our army, too, will certainly not remain in a quiet trench, leaving only the Russian diplomats to disentangle the brewing porridge.
There are things in the Iranian air defense organization in which we, without particularly risking, are able to provide the Persians with unspoken, but simply invaluable assistance in a sudden massive attack from the air. First of all, with operational information about the situation in the Indian Ocean, in the Mediterranean and Red Seas.
A powerful locator of the Russian Tri-S-400 Triumph air defense system located in Syria can be very useful for this. And also – the first Russian overseas radar station “Container”, which only this year embarked on combat duty in the Nizhny Novgorod region and is part of our Missile Attack Warning System. The radius of view of this powerful radar is up to 3,000 kilometers. That allows you to reliably observe the huge airspace from the Arctic to the Middle East.
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Naturally, even this may threaten new political problems in Moscow’s relations with Washington and Tel Aviv. But at the same time, it should be clearly understood that in the event of the beginning of real hostilities in the sky over Iran, we certainly will not be able to sit aside. Too much for Moscow is tied to relations with Tehran. From issues of oil pricing on all exchanges in the world to the very possibility of continuing its operation in Syria.
Indeed, to maintain the combat effectiveness of the Russian group in this country, the real “dear life” is the Khmeimim air base. Airplanes of the Russian Military Transport Aviation have to reach it through the Caspian Sea, and then over Iran and Iraq. If the outbreak of the war cuts this supply cord for a long time, Moscow will have to curtail the operation in Syria. Only a few large landing ships and auxiliary vessels of the Russian Navy are unable to help out. They already work to the limit.
For us, such a turn of events in the Middle East will instantly put everything upside down.
But what about the Iranian nuclear bomb, the appearance of which the Ayatollah regime would be very inappropriate for Russia too? And now this, alas, is much more obliged for others to decide. First of all, Donald Trump himself, who has lately done more in these parts than any elephant in the closest closet. There is only one way out – to repent to the Persians and beg them to quickly conclude a new “nuclear deal.”
Yes, it is humiliating for smug America. But getting the Middle East “nuclear miracle” on your forehead would be much more painful.