Joe Biden has assured the world that Iran will not acquire nuclear weapons “on my watch.” How much credence ought the people of Israel, who will be the ones most affected should Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, give to this assurance? None at all. Israelis cannot entrust their national survival to assurances from Joe Biden and the Bidenites, who have yet to say how they would prevent that acquisition by Iran of nuclear weapons, by stating clearly that “we will use our military power to destroy all of Iran’s nuclear facilities” if Tehran enriches uranium beyond a certain point.
Israel is now preparing for an attack on Iran it hopes it will not ever have to launch. It hopes instead that the Supreme Leader and the rest of his regime will call a halt to their nuclear program before it reaches a stage which will require Israel to act.
Now 44 retired American generals and admirals have made public a letter to the President and to Congress, asking that Israel be supplied with advanced weapons for use in a possible attack on Iran. More on this letter’s contents can be found here: “To Prevent Nuclear Iran, US Should Arm Israel, Write 44 Retired Generals and Admirals,” JNS, March 21, 2023:
In a March 20 open letter issued by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), 44 retired U.S. generals and admirals asked the White House and Congress to “immediately provide Israel with the advanced weapons it needs to deter and prevent a nuclear Iran.”
“Iran is coming ever closer to crossing the nuclear threshold and, thereby, sparking a crisis in the Middle East,” according to the letter released by the Washington, D.C. nonprofit. It first appeared in The Hill on March 21.
The signatories added that Washington should apply lessons from the one-year-old conflict in Ukraine: “It’s vital to arm capable and willing partners facing regional threats, and best to do so before conflict erupts.”
“As retired American military leaders who devoted our lives to the defense of our nation, we prefer a diplomatic solution that would genuinely end the threat posed by Iran’s escalating nuclear program,” they wrote. “But no such deal is imminent, nor realistic.”
Herman Shelanski, a Jewish retired vice admiral who signed the letter, told JNS that projecting strength is a very important way to dissuade would-be aggressors.
“The focus for the United States is to remain a very strong and powerful military to avoid having to go to war. There are countries that look at signs of weakness and will act if they perceive weakness,” he said.
Just as the United States delivered arms to Ukraine, it should do the same for Israel, according to Shelanski. “Frankly, we hope no one else messes with them. That deterrence in strength and in arms could eventually prevent worse things from happening,” he said. “Better to be strong and prevent than to have to go to war.”
Only Israel has the means, will and ability to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold imminently, the letter stated.
This is a public rebuke to the Bidenites, who have the means, but not the will, to stop Iran. The admirals and generals who signed this letter know that it is Israel alone that will act to stop Iran’s nuclear project, and they want to ensure that Israel has “the means” to do so.
To that end, it said, the United States should sell, lease or place in position Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tankers; McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle and Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jets; and precision-guided munitions.
Iran is very far from Israel, and in order for IAF planes to fly all the way to Iran and back, they will need to be refueled in the air. Israel has on order four KC-46 Pegasus refueling tankers, but as things stand now, delivery is not expected until 2024 and 2025. Meanwhile, the USAF already has 68 KC-46 tankers in its arsenal, with another 60 on order. Surely the Air Force can spare just four of them for delivery to Israel, which needs those planes now, not in a year or two. If the Americans announce that they are immediately going to deliver to the IAF those four refueling tankers, that will get Iran’s attention, and may cause sufficient alarm about an imminent Israeli strike that the Iranian leaders will stop their uranium enrichment program.
“JINSA organized this letter because many leading U.S. military leaders understand that Iran’s unprecedented nuclear escalation represents a dire threat to American security interests, and that Israel has demonstrated the most will to counter Iran and prevent its achieving nuclear capability,” Michael Makovsky, president and CEO of JINSA, told JNS.
“Hopefully, this letter will help galvanize more Democrats and Republicans in Congress to press the Biden administration to expedite to Israel the military tools it needs to defend itself and prevent a nuclear Iran,” he said.
Shelanski thinks that the letter will have an impact.
“It’s always a battle, but I’m optimistic,” he said. “Maybe we will not see everything on the list, but we will see a better supply to Israel so that it can be better prepared for this.”
One weapon that does not appear on the list these retired generals and admirals think should be provided to Israel is the 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Projectile (MOP), or “bunker buster,” that Israel will need if it is to succeed in destroying the nuclear facilities underground at Natanz or inside a mountain at Fordow. In 2020, two members of the House proposed a resolution asking the American government sell Israel its largest bunker buster, the GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP). Nothing came of that effort. Without the GBU-57A/B in its arsenal, it will be impossible for Israel to destroy, for example, the nuclear facility at Fordow, which is built 295 feet underground. But perhaps — it’s not clear — the mention in the letter of “precision-guided munitions” may refer to the GBU-57A/B bunker buster bomb.
Perhaps the retired officers were worried that if they called outright for those bunker-buster bombs to be supplied to Israel, rather than offering, as they did, merely a mention of unspecified “precision-guided munitions,” this would so clearly be a signal to Tehran that the Americans are preparing Israel for war against the Islamic Republic, that Iran might lash out now with attacks on American forces still in Syria and Iraq.
But the letter is a good start, reminding everyone that Israel will take on the task the Bidenites have avoided, and that at the very least, it ought to be provided with the tools – the weapons – it needs to be successful. The aerial refueling tankers could be delivered to Israel at once from the American arsenal. The 30,000-pound bunker buster bombs, which I assume are meant to be included under the rubric of “precision-guided munitions,” should certainly be provided to Israel as well; these bombs are the key to Israel’s success. This open letter puts more pressure on the Bidenites, who need to realize that if Israel is willing to take on the monumental task of stopping Iran’s nuclear program, it deserves to receive whatever weapons it will need from the American military. Once it has fulfilled its mission, this will make not just the Jewish state but also the Sunni Arab states of the Gulf, and the rest of the region, too, much more secure, when the largest terrorist state, Iran, has seen its nuclear program devastated.