With tensions between Israel and Iran running sky high over the latter’s nuclear program, U.S. officials and military analysts are growing increasingly concerned that Israel will launch a multi-phase air and missile attack that could trigger waves of retaliatory missile strikes from Tehran.Such a shootout could quickly spiral into a regional conflict that would potentially force the U.S. to intervene to protect its interests.The emerging consensus among current and former U.S. officials and other experts interviewed by NBC News is that that an Israeli attack would be a multi-faceted assault on key Iranian nuclear installations, involving strikes by both warplanes and missiles. It could also include targeted attacks by Israeli special operations forces and possibly even the use of massive explosives-laden drones, they say.The Iranian response to such an attack is uncertain, but many experts and officials believe it is likely to include retaliatory missile strikes. Iran has more missiles in its arsenal than Israel, according to some estimates, and has the capability of striking targets in most Israeli population centers.He also said Iran would likely attack major cities with its Shahab 3 missiles, which he said are not as accurate as the Israeli missiles, but would be an effective “instrument of terror … that could certainly cause significant damage to heavily populated suburban and urban areas.”Additionally, U.S. intelligence estimates say Iran has supplied Hezbollah with more than 40,000 short-range rockets and missiles since 2006.
Earlier Tuesday, a U.S. intelligence official familiar with the discussions between top Israeli officials and Pentagon counterparts said that Israel indicated it would not warn the U.S. if they decide to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.The pronouncement, delivered in a series of private, top-level conversations, sets a tense tone ahead of meetings in the coming days at the White House and Capitol Hill.
Referring to the possibility of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, the country's defense minister warned possible perpetrators of Iran's secret weapons capabilities, saying that the "Islamic Republic of Iran has many hidden capabilities which are kept for rainy days."
An Israeli strike on Iran would probably prompt Iranian-backed terrorist attacksBlockading the Strait of Hormuz where oil and gas tankers pass is probable, and he said that the United States and soldiers overseas would be targeted by terrorists, most likely with bombs, if the Israeli government decides on a pre-emptive strike to harm Iran's nuclear development program that is widely perceived as aiming for a nuclear weapon.Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said that Israel can defend itself against an Iranian counter-attack. “Is 40 missiles on Tel Aviv nice? “No. But it’s better than a nuclear Iran,” a former Israeli official told the Times. ” A worst-case scenario for Israel would be simultaneous attacks by Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas on Israel.
He added, “The balance the Iranians will try to strike is doing damage that is sufficiently significant, but just short of what it would take for America to invade.”
While the Times cited US and Israeli officials saying the last thing Iran would want is a war on its home front, the officials admitted that it would be impossible to predict the thinking of Iran's leadership in wartime.Meanwhile, a security official in Jerusalem told The Jerusalem Post that Israel can defend itself against barrages of Iranian long-range missiles.
“The Iranians have the ability to launch barrages and that is an important part of their capabilities,” he said.
“But we are prepared and have the ability to intercept those barrages if they are launched.”
Nearly half of all United Nations (U.N.) member states are now issuing biometric e-passports, according to the newest data from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the U.N. agency that oversees international air travel.
ICAO, which held its 20th TAG/MRTD meeting in September, reports that 93 out of 193 U.N. member states now issue e-passports, with 21 additional countries ready to deploy the technology in the next 12 to 48 months.ICAO estimates that as of July 2011, these 93 states have issued more than 345 million e-passports, of which almost 340 million are in circulation.As per ICAO specifications, each of these documents contains a contactless integrated circuit chip that stores biometric data–i.e. facial, fingerprint or iris–of the passport holder as well as other encrypted identification data.
The emergence of bird flu fifteen years ago conjured up visions of a viral Armageddon. It was previously unknown and it was dangerous. It gave rise to the archetypal health scare, that is to say a panic about a remote possibility that was much more frightening than more real, constant but everyday dangers with which we are so familiar that we ignore them.
Bird flu was frightening because the case-fatality rate (the proportion of people who died having contracted the disease) was high and there was no treatment for it. Fortunately, though, its communicability from bird to man was low, and from person to person virtually unknown. According to a recent paper in The Lancet, 344 of 583 people known to have contracted it in the last 15 years died of it, a very tiny absolute number by comparison with the total numbers of deaths in the world during that period.
According to The Lancet, researchers have now genetically-engineered strains of bird flu that can pass easily from ferret to ferret (the animal model often used in flu research) by means of aerosol, that is to say by air exhaled from the lungs. This demonstrates the possibility that a bird flu virus could emerge that would threaten the health of mankind.