It is 2027. Iran has one of the world’s largest theater missile and drone forces and supplies its proxies with substantial numbers of these. The main beneficiary of Iran’s missile-drone largesse is Hezbollah, which throughout most of 2027 uses these strike systems in a cat-and-mouse war of pinpricks firing from Syria, occasionally against northern Israeli positions. Iran, meanwhile, has not given up developing a nuclear weapon. Late in 2027, Israeli intelligence receives human intelligence (HUMINT) that Iran is increasing activity at a number of suspected Iranian nuclear weapons design-fabrication sites. Israeli overhead imagery corroborates this. Israel then receives high-confidence HUMINT that the Iranians are about to join complete nuclear warheads with missile delivery systems at several ultra-high-performance concrete hardened, buried locations. Israeli intelligence believes it knows where all of these sites are. Israel’s prime minister decides this is casus belli. There’s a problem, however. Israeli intelligence determines that the buried structures Iran has built with the latest generation of layered, ultra-high-performance concrete cannot be destroyed without hypersonic strike weapons. That is why Israel asked Washington to sell it these weapons for the last two years. The U.S. President, who has repeatedly pledged never to let Iran get nuclear weapons, refused. Israel’s president speaks directly with the president of the United States. The Israeli president asks that America join Israel in launching a coordinated airstrike. He makes this plea noting Israel’s lack of adequate penetrating munitions. The U.S. president asks for a full Israeli intelligence brief. After having received it, the U.S. president agrees finally to give Israel the latest U.S. hypersonic conventional munitions but offers no further American assistance, much less a green light to attack. These munitions are flown into Germany and delivered to Israel on non-U.S. cargo planes.
Israel receives the munitions and, without explicit American permission, launches a preventive conventional missile strike using nearly all of the hypersonic weapons it received against the Iranian nuclear weapons integration facilities that it knows of. Word quickly leaks of the attack and that Israel conducted it against “suspect” nuclear weapons integration facilities. Iran releases photos of its damaged “peaceful research” sites, decries the attack, and calls for “retribution” against Israel. A day later, Hezbollah launches missiles that saturate and suppress Israeli missile defenses. Hamas and the Houthi rebels (who have acquired missiles capable of reaching Israel) take advantage of the saturation of missile defenses to launch their own rockets against Israeli military bases, civilian infrastructure, and population centers, causing serious damage and numerous casualties. With the Israeli defenses degraded, Iran launches a missile strike of its own against nuclear-associated targets, including Israel’s reactor at Dimona (which, given its size, fails to release any significant radioactivity beyond the local area), several nuclear-associated air and missile bases (including Sdot Micha airbase)
, and Israel’s bases for its Dolphin nuclear missile-armed submarines. Iran also attacks the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Tel Aviv, located in the city’s center. The Tel Aviv strike kills and injures a large number of civilians. Iran simultaneously declares its formal request to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), claiming the Israeli strike jeopardizes its “supreme interests.” Meanwhile, Israeli HUMINT reports that Israel has yet to fully destroy its target set: Iran’s warhead weaponization and missile integration efforts are not only still active, but are now accelerating at locations Israel did not target.
Israeli leadership is shocked by the combination of the massive damage to Israel and the ongoing nuclear threat and decides that this is the existential moment that demands a nuclear response. The Israeli prime minister speaks with the American president again, explaining that Israel lacks the precise intelligence to use conventional firepower to eliminate the target set and that the United States must now attack Iran. The American president demurs, offering additional American “assistance” but making it clear that Israeli military strikes against Iran must end now lest it lead to a nuclear exchange between Iran and Israel. The Israeli prime minister explains that if that is the case, Israel will have to take whatever action it deems necessary. On the Israeli prime minister’s return, he calls for the views of the foreign and defense ministers as well as the head of the Mossad. He tasks them to determine how and where a nuclear weapon be used and of what yield (ideas include but are not limited to a demonstration EMP shot over Syria and/or Iran, targeting Iran’s energy infrastructure, destruction of nuclear integration locations as best is known, or others including civilian and infrastructure targets).