LONDON, (Reuters) – An Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would start a long war and probably not prevent Iran from eventually acquiring nuclear weapons, a think-tank said yesterday.
Oxford Research Group, which promotes non-violent solutions to conflict, said military action should be ruled out as a response to Iran’s possible nuclear weapons ambitions.
“An Israeli attack on Iran would be the start of a protracted conflict that would be unlikely to prevent the eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran and might even encourage it,” it said in a report.
It would also lead to instability and unpredictable security consequences for the region and the wider world, it added.
The United Nations Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran last month over a nuclear programme the West suspects is aimed at developing atomic weapons in secret. Iran says it wants nuclear energy for peaceful uses only.
The report, by Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at the University of Bradford, said U.S. military action against Iran appeared unlikely but Israel’s capabilities had increased.
“Long-range strike aircraft acquired from the United States, combined with an improved fleet of tanker aircraft, the deployment of long-range drones and the probable availability of support facilities in northeast Iraq and Azerbaijan, all increase Israel’s potential for action against Iran,” it said.
Israeli leaders usually speak only of leaving all options on the table, although Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said in May that Israel had the capability to hit Iran.
Israel is widely believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal. The Jewish state neither confirms nor denies this.
The Oxford report estimated it might take three to seven years for Iran to develop a small arsenal of nuclear weapons if it decided to do so. It said there was no firm evidence such a decision had been taken by the Islamic Republic.