OSIRAK REDUX?….Via Prof Bainbridge comes a London Times article suggesting that Ariel Sharon is getting ready to reprise the Israeli attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981:

Israel’s armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.

The order came after Israeli intelligence warned the government that Iran was operating enrichment facilities, believed to be small and concealed in civilian locations.

….The order to prepare for a possible attack went through the Israeli defence ministry to the chief of staff. Sources inside special forces command confirmed that ?G? readiness ? the highest stage ? for an operation was announced last week.

This strikes me as doubtful, and not just because everything I’ve read suggests that even the United States would have a hard time mounting an effective attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, let alone Israel. Rather, what are the odds that someone in the Israeli military would leak this news if they were genuinely planning something? Even the famously leaky U.S. military manages to keep stuff like this under wraps, and the Israeli military is not famously leaky. This kind of operational disclosure ? if genuine ? would be stunningly irresponsible, and it beggars belief that anyone highly placed enough to know about this would also be craven enough to reveal it. I assume it’s a capital crime, for one thing. [UPDATE: Apparently not. But still an exceptionally serious one.]

So it must be an approved leak. But if that’s the case, what’s the point? Routine saber rattling? An attempt to panic the Iranians into doing something stupid? Misdirection? Something for domestic consumption?

Hard to say. But I’ll bet the least likely alternative is that the Israelis genuinely have a plan to attack Iran in March.

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