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Monday, April 12, 2010

The Medvedev Scenario or Threat?

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that an Israeli strike will not be a pretty sight.

The Russian president also tried to estimate the meaning of what he sees as a war in the Middle East erupting as a result of such a move on Israel's side, saying "everyone is so close over there that nobody would be unaffected. And if conflict of that kind happens, and a strike is performed, then you can expect anything, including use of nuclear weapons."

"And nuclear strikes in the Middle East, this means a global catastrophe. Many deaths," Medvedev said.

Let us examine this assessment more carefully. Let us consider the following factors. If Israel hits Iran there are only two possible results; Israel will be successful and cripple the nuclear capability of Iran or it will fail.

If Israel is successful it doesn't mean that the story is over. But the worst case here is not a nuclear war but probably a protracted conflict with Iran, if it is able to fight, and also a war with Hamas and Hizbollah (Iranian proxies). It will be a conventional war.

If Israel is unsuccessful in pinpointing Iran's nuclear targets then it will be more difficult. If Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons, Israel will face a three side enemy. This is going to be difficult but nothing new to them as evidenced from previous wars like 1967.

If Israel fails and Iran has nuclear weapons that will be an entirely different matter. Israel must have a good missile defense system to thwart the big one this time. Another backup will be the US defense system in the Middle East. Most will think the US will choose Iran over Israel. But stranger things have happened and the possibility of the US not helping in the end is on the table.

North Korea has tested nuclear weapons in 2006 and yet the US assessment is that it only has 6 of such weapons as of this time. Let's say Iran got hold of the weapons, since 2009 which is according to estimates by some experts. Then this could just be a one-shot deal in case Iran launches nuclear warheads. If the US enters the game, it can possibly thwart this one.

If this is the case, why is Medvedev almost sure in his assessment that a nuclear fallout will result? I am not trying to put words into the Russian President's mouth but is this a threat clothed in the words of diplomacy?

Does this mean that if Israel attacks, Russia will again be on the side of the former's enemies just as before? In 1967 and in 1973, Russia supplied conventional weapons to Israel's foes at that time. Will they be ready to arm Iran and its proxies with nuclear arms this time?