By Jeremy Herb
“The war game that took place developed in the direction of containment and restraint, with the actors motivated mainly by rational considerations and critical interests,” the authors wrote.
“This sense of an imminent decision has since abated somewhat, but after the US and Israeli elections, the question of an attack will undoubtedly resurface,” the report says. “It is therefore critical to continue to examine the potential ramifications of an attack.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened this year that Israel might launch a unilateral attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, sparking tensions with the United States.
Netanyahu pushed back the timeline for a potential attack during his September U.N. speech, suggesting a decision would not come for Israel until spring 2013.
President Obama has urged Israel to wait for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear dispute, although he’s said that no options, including military ones, are off the table to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The war game did not appear to take into account whether Obama or Mitt Romney wins the presidential election.
The scenario says that Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities on Nov. 9, and does not tell Washington until its planes are already in the air.
Nonetheless, the United States stood by Israel’s side and did not expose any differences of opinion, in order to present a united front against possible regional escalation.
Iran responded by launching missiles at Tel Aviv and a nuclear research site in the Negev, and encouraging its proxies like Hezbollah to respond in Israel with terrorism.
But the scenario found that Iran was somewhat limited in its options to attack Israel, and that it could do more damage in the Gulf, by taking actions such as closing the Strait of Hormuz.
But Iran understood the cost if it made offensive moves in the Persian Gulf, including involving the U.S. militarily, and Washington decided it would only take military action against Iran if it tried to close the Strait of Hormuz or attack American bases in the Gulf.
The scenario found that Israel could not rely on the international community for much help because of Russia, as it suggested the U.S.-Russia divide would paralyze the international community.
At the end of the simulation, Iran continues to attack Israel, along with its proxies, while Israel seeks to contain the attacks.