While Iranian nuclear weapons are still under development, biological and chemi- cal weapons, and possibly radiological weapons, are already operational. They are most apt to be employed by Iran in reprisal to such an attack. Innately, Iran is prone to dare what Iraq did not. The implications of this study pertain, foremost, to Israel and America. The strategic vulnerability of Israel to non-nuclear WMD is well known, despite various protective and defensive measures in which the Israeli government has invested.100 This vulnerability might possibly near existential level. The threat to the United States is restricted in comparison, yet its potential mag- nitude is still considerable.
Therefore, taking into account the serious risk of an Iranian CBR-based second strike, a preemptive attack cannot focus exclusively on its nuclear establishment. Rather than being discrete, a preemptive attack has to be massive. To be effective, it must incapacitate Iranian CBR potency, immediately before or in conjunction with the destruction of nuclear facilities. This would mean, in practical terms, hitting the Iranian storage and deployment facilities of CBR warfare agents, munitions, warheads, and/or delivery systems. Treating the threat of Iranian-induced CBR terrorism acts is another, highly significant dimension, and not a less complicated one, in its way.
Not in vain, Alexis Debat notes, the Pentagon had drawn up plans for massive air- strikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days. ‘They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military’, he noted. ‘The US military had concluded that whether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same.’ It was, he added, a ‘very legitimate strategic calculus’.101 Although seemingly drastic and outstandingly complex, such a military operation has its own, sound rationale, one inherent component of which is, in all likelihood, the desirable elimination of Iran’s CBR retaliatory capabilities. Inversely, that factor would cause the Iranians to carry out CBR-based retaliatory moves as early as possible, using their CBR arsenal as fast as possible, while it remained functional. Naturally, this tentative interplay is challenging for both the attacker and for the responder. And the responder is quite able; it should be handled meticulously.