Can Israel Survive a War with Iran?

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TEL AVIV - The New Year brings new worry to the Middle East. In the past few weeks, Russia has delivered several more shipments of nuclear fuel to Iran.

Watch for Gordon Robertson's comments on the situation, following this report.

The shipments, along with a new assessment from U.S. intelligence, are causing grave concern in Israel.

Iran's No. 1 Target: Israel

Last week at the Bushehr nuclear plant, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned the West that Israel's Zionist regime has reached its final stage and is about to collapse. A nuclear plant as his backdrop served as a grim reminder of the danger Israelis face as Iran's number one target.

The largest and perhaps most likely place for an Iranian attack on Israel is in Tel Aviv and the sprawling cities and towns of Israel's coastal plain. From here, Israel's defense specialists make plans to cover all bases against Iran's regime.

One of those plans includes preparing the nation for a surprise attack. For example, last year Israel held the largest civil defense simulation in the history of the state.

"We're simulating for scenarios such as missiles falling on Tel Aviv, suicide bombers, terror from inside the country and outside the country, non-conventional and conventional weapons," said an IDF spokeswoman.

Non-conventional weapons include Iran's nuclear threat and most Israelis take that threat very seriously.

While the world focuses on Iran's nuclear enrichment program, Israeli missile expert Uzi Rubin warns Iran already has the ability to deliver a nuclear bomb anywhere in Israel.

"Yes, the vehicle is already there. They didn't develop all this capability just for explosive warheads, it's meaningless," he said.

Sanctions Won't Get the Job Done

Despite this knowledge, the U.S. pushes for more sanctions against Iran. A strategy Israel's former military intelligence chief, retired Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, says carries no weight with Iran.

"They have enough time to know how weak the West is - how much the West speaks with high language and doesn't mean really to support this language with deeds. They already know that. All the sanctions that are taken by the Security Council are peanuts," he said.

Another frustration for Israeli leaders is the recent U.S. intelligence report that says Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

Some believe it knocked any U.S. military option against Iran off the table. But Kuperwasser says the report missed the point. The important thing is that Iran even has such a program at all.

"These people had a weaponization program, which means, without a doubt this is a military program. So let's do something about it," he said.

Kuperwasser believes Iran may be just two years from creating a nuclear weapon.

So what happens if Iran strikes Israel with nuclear weapons? Conventional wisdom holds that just one nuclear strike would finish Israel. But a recent study conducted by the Center for Strategic & International Studies suggests Israel could survive an attack, while retaliation would "send Iran back to the stone age."

The study projected between 200 and 800,000 of Israel's seven million people would die from a nuclear strike. Iran, however, would lose 16 to 28 million of its 65 million people in an Israeli attack.

Kuperwasser said, "The most important thing is not to get to the point where something like this is even possible. Because of that, I think that we shouldn't even speak of such a hypothetical situation, because the most important thing is not to get there.

Will Israel Preempt A Nuclear Iran?

Washington military analyst Peter Brookes says while Israel must defend itself, any action would have a negative affect on the U.S.

"I think we would see problems in Iraq; I think we would see problems in Afghanistan; I think Hezbollah would become involved. That could mean even problems for us here in the United States. I think we would see counter-strikes against Israel by Iran. I mean, there are consequences to taking military action," Brookes said.

So far, sanctions and negotiations are the tools at hand, as Iran advances toward its nuclear goals.

In the meantime, Rubin says Iran's rocket engineers have finished their homework. They're just waiting for the nuclear scientists to finish theirs.

He said, "The problem is with the nuclear bomb. Does it work or doesn't it? The aircraft is just a bus to take it there. It's the same thing with the missile. The missile is just a bus to take the nuclear bomb. If the nuclear people did a good job, it will work."

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Chris Mitchell and John Waage

Chris Mitchell and John Waage

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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