Israel has been developing a plan to use electronic warfare in a military operation against Iranian nuclear sites, Eli Lake reports in The Daily Beast. The U.S. military's Joint Warfare Analysis Center (JWAC) has discovered a weakness in Iran's electrical grid, a retired senior military officer said, and Israel now is able to shut down parts of the Iranian command structure that rely on the Internet.
An Israeli preemptive strike would likely rely on unmanned aerial vehicles known as Herons and Eitans, some of which can fly for 45 consecutive hours. The drones would be working with the "Sky Crows" - an Israeli air force unit devoted exclusively to electronic warfare.
"I think Israel has the capabilities with their air force and mid-air refueling to take on these sites," said Fred Fleitz, a former House Intelligence Committee staffer.
Israel "would have to take out radar and anti-aircraft [weapons]. They could also attack with missiles and their drone fleet," added Fleitz, who retired this year as the panel's senior Republican staffer handling Iran issues.
A senior Israeli official said the Israelis wanted to persuade Iranian leaders that a military strike against their nuclear facilities was a serious possibility.
"The only known way to stop a nuclear program is to have smashing sanctions with a credible military threat," a senior Israeli official told Lake. Libya, where veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi agreed to give up his nuclear program following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, is "the best example of this," the official said.
In an effort to head off an Israeli military strike, President Obama formed a standing committee on Iran with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to share intelligence and check the progress of sanctions. Despite this, U.S. and Israeli officials say Netanyahu "has refused to give any assurance to Obama or his top cabinet advisers that he would inform or ask permission before launching an attack on Iran" that would spur the regime to retaliate by launching terrorist attacks on the United States.
Netanyahu's reluctance may come from the experience of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In 2007, he asked the United States to bomb a covert Syrian nuclear facility. President Bush refused, so Israel bombed the site.
"When Netanyahu came into office, the understanding was they will not make the same mistake that Olmert made and ask for something the president might say no to," an Israeli official said. "Better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission."
Read Lake's report here.