May 17, 2010
A nuclear-armed Iran would blunt Israel’s military autonomy, a wargame involving former Israeli generals and diplomats has concluded, though some players predicted Tehran would also exercise restraint.
Sunday’s event at a campus north of Tel Aviv followed other high-profile Iran simulations in Israel and the United States in recent months. But it broke new ground by assuming the existence of what both countries have pledged to prevent: an Iranian bomb.
“Iranian deterrence proved dizzyingly effective,” Eitan Ben-Eliahu, a retired air force commander who played the Israeli defence minister, said in his summary of the 20-team meeting.
Though the wargame saw Iran declaring itself a nuclear power in 2011, the ensuing confrontations were by proxy, in Lebanon. In one, emboldened Hezbollah guerrillas fired missiles at the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv. That was followed by U.S. and Israeli intelligence findings that Iran had slipped radioactive materials to its Lebanese cohort, to assemble a crude device.
Neither move drew Israeli attacks, though Ben-Eliahu said his delegation had received discreet encouragement from Arab rivals of Iran to “go all the way” in retaliating.