JERUSALEM — Iran's nuclear program seeks first-strike capability against Israel, a leading strategist said.
The Israeli strategist and former intelligence officer said Iran believes it could destroy the Jewish state with one nuclear weapon.
"Iranians believe that it holds, may hold, a first strike capability against Israel once it has a nuclear capability," said Shmuel Bar, director of studies at the Institute of Police and Strategy.
Iran believes "that Israel is a one-bomb country, one bomb from the point-of-view of the receiving side; that the U.S. would not intervene against Iran under such conditions; and all of that with apocalyptic zeal may result in actual use of nuclear weapons," he said.
Dr. Shmuel Bar, director of studies at the Institute of Policy and Strategy in Herzliya, Israel. Herzliyaconference.org
Bar, who for years worked in the Israeli intelligence community, told a conference on Jan. 9 that Iran was prepared to destroy Muslim cities as the price for firing nuclear missiles toward Israel. He said the ruling Islamic clergy would support a nuclear attack on Israel even at the risk of killing millions of Palestinian Muslims.
"They're developing weapons both as deterrents and that part of the Iranian regime — the more revolutionary part — has all of the components for developing a doctrine of use of nuclear weapons, as opposed to adoption of using nuclear weapons as deterrents," Bar said. "I think that it's a religious background which brings them to this sort of a doctrine."
Bar said Iran has studied the U.S. wars against the former Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. The chief Iranian lesson was that only nuclear weapons could deter a U.S. attack.
"Nuclear weapons are strategic necessity for deterring the West and Israel and for achieving their strategic goals," Bar said. "Until they arrive at nuclear weapons, Iran's strategic deterrence must rely on terrorism and subversive potential."
Bar said Iran has scored its sole foreign success in the operation of the Hizbullah militia in Lebanon. Hizbullah lost 800 fighters in the war against Israel in the summer of 2006. Bar cited funerals in Lebanon for those termed "holy warriors."
"Whatever they may say, they lost somewhere around 800 men who we can account for," Bar said. "You count the funerals and the names, and you count the names of the people in the documents in south Lebanon."