The report was released on Nov. 19 amid Iranian threats to destroy the
Jewish state. Cordesman said Israel could cause tremendous damage to Iran
because of its much more powerful nuclear weapons.
"Israel and U.S. capability to preempt is factor, but main issue may be
Israel's ability to clearly develop mutual assured destruction and U.S.
capability to deploy credible level of extended deterrence," the report
Israel has produced nuclear weapons with a yield of one megaton, the
report said. In contrast, Iran would be unable to assemble a weapon of more
than 100 kilotons.
A megaton weapon could inflict third-degree burns at three times the
radius, and radiation fallout could kill others at a distance of 130
kilometers. A 100 kiloton bomb could result in casualties within a radius of
The report expressed confidence in Israeli missile defense capabilities.
Cordesman said most Iranian nuclear missiles could be intercepted by the
Israeli-origin Arrow-2 missile defense system, bolstered by the U.S-origin
Enhanced Missile Plus.
The report envisions a war between 2010 and 2020, when Iran was expected
to acquire an arsenal of up to 30 nuclear warheads. Cordesman expected
Israel to have more than 200 nuclear warheads, launched by ground- and
"Prevention [of Iran's nuclear weapons] may stimulate massive covert,
dispersed effort," the report said. "Preemption becomes radically different
once Iran has nuclear armed force."
Cordesman expects Syria, albeit without nuclear weapons, to join any
war. The report envisions Syria firing chemical and other nonconventional
weapons that could kill up to 800,000 Israelis. For its part, Syria could
lose 18 million in an Israeli nuclear retaliation.
Egypt could also join an Iranian war against Israel. The report expected
Israel to retaliate by firing nuclear missiles toward Alexandria, Aswan,
Cairo and other cities. Cordesman said Egypt's Suez Canal and Aswan Dam
would be destroyed.
"Rational actors do not fight nuclear wars, but history is not written
about rational actors behaving in a rational manner," the report said.