defense officials and military analysts close to the Pentagon who say that an Israeli attack meant to cheap jordans set back Iran's nuclear program would be a huge and highly complex operation. They describe it as far different from Israel's "surgical" strikes on a nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007 and Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981.
"All the pundits who talk about 'Oh, yeah, bomb Iran,' it ain't going to be that easy," said Lt. Gen. air campaigns in 2001 in Afghanistan and in the 1991 Gulf War.
The possible outlines of an Israeli attack have become a source of debate in Washington, where some analysts question whether Israel even has the military capacity to carry it off. One fear is that the United States would be sucked into finishing the job -- a task that even with the United States' far larger arsenal of aircraft and munitions could still take many weeks, defense analysts said. Another fear is of Iranian retaliation.
Michael Hayden, who served as the director of the CIA from 2006 to 2009, said flatly last month that airstrikes capable of seriously setting back Iran's nuclear program were "beyond the capacity" of Israel, in part because of the distance that attack aircraft would have to travel and the scale of the task.
Still, a top defense official cautioned in an interview last week that "we don't have perfect visibility" into Israel's arsenal, let alone its military calculations.
Given that Israel would want to strike Iran's four major nuclear sites cheap jordans -- the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordo, the heavy-water reactor at Arak and the yellowcake-conversion plant at Isfahan -- military analysts say the first problem is how to get there. There are three potential routes: to the north over Turkey, to the south over Saudi Arabia or taking a central route across Jordan and Iraq.
The route over Iraq would be the most direct and likely, defense analysts say, because Iraq effectively has no air defenses and the United States, after its December withdrawal, no longer has the obligation to defend Iraqi skies.