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There is no better place to understand Iranian strategy than the Laleh Park in central Tehran, where young and old gather most afternoons to engage in an ancient form of combat.
Chess has helped sharpen the Persian mind for centuries and may explain how today’s regime is plotting its next move to become a superpower.
Some time over the coming two to three years, Iran will be able to build its first nuclear weapon, granting it membership of the world’s most elite club and putting it on par with
If diplomatic efforts fail to halt Tehran, then there is only one last obstacle — the open threat by Israel to destroy Tehran’s nuclear sites before it can complete an atomic weapon.
Israel has the political will and the military muscle to execute an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The range may be beyond anything attempted by the Israeli Air Force, but Iran’s conventional forces are outdated and defences weak. It is assumed that Arab states, whose airspace Israeli bombers and fighters would have to fly through to reach Iran, would secretly cooperate on a mission to blunt the Persian threat.
That is why Tehran is investing so heavily in its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah. The Shia Muslim militia has rebuilt and strengthened its arsenal since the bloody war it fought with the Israelis in 2006. It has amassed tens of thousands of rockets and missiles capable of bombarding half the country.
Israeli planners have no doubt that should they make the fateful decision to attack Iran, they will provoke massive retaliation on an unprecedented scale. The most densely populated areas of the country would come under Hezbollah range, including Tel Aviv, Haifa and Ben Gurion, Israel’s only international airport.
Israel may be able to take Iran’s queen. But in the process it could put itself into check.