Why Israel Dares not and U.S Will Not Strike Iran
|Monday, February 12,2007 00:00|
|By Shahram Vahdany, MWC News|
Last month Iran broke United Nations seals on the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, triggering a diplomatic crisis that most believe almost certainly will lead to a standoff with United States, Britain and the European Union. The U.K., Germany and France -with support of U.S.- have called for Iran to be hauled before UN Security Council to face possible sanctions.
We will look at Iran’s situation beyond the hysteria and propaganda from both sides in our interview with Dr. Muhammad Sahimi,
Sahimi is professor of chemical engineering at the University of Southern California and co-author, with Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, of the recent op-ed "Defusing Iran with Democracy”
SHAHRAM VAHDANY- Thank you professor Sahimi for your time. What is your view with regards to Iran’s situation, either domestically or internationally?
PROFFESSOR SAHIMI - In order to understand what is happening in Iran and what president Ahmadinejad is doing, we must first understand the views he, his administration, and his supporters within the Iranian political hierarchy have and compare them with the views that his predecessor, Mr. Mohammad Khatami, and his administration had.
President Khatami believed that Iran could reach an agreement with the European countries and in particular with France, Britain and Germany regarding Iran’s nuclear energy program, especially the most “worrisome” aspect of it, namely, uranium enrichment. President Khatami and his administration believed that through transparency and cooperation they can reach an agreement whereby they can have both cooperation from the European countries and their participation in Iran’s energy program, and preserve the nuclear infrastructure that Iran has built for uranium enrichment. However, the view of president Ahmadinejad and his administration is that, regardless of what Iran does, the United States is never going to be satisfied; that they are really not after Iran’s nuclear program or uranium enrichment per se, but that they are after changing the regime in Iran. They also believe that a direct confrontation between Iran and the US may be inevitable. Therefore, they need to do something in order to be prepared for that. Note that I am not implying that they are trying to make a nuclear bomb, but I believe that their mentality is such that they would like to have the capability to develop a nuclear bomb on a short notice if that becomes necessary, or they view it as necessary.
Therefore, you can see there are fundamental differences between the views of Mr. Ahmadinejad and his administration and those of Mr. Khatami and his administration.
At the same time, we must remember that there are considerable differences between different factions within the Iranian political hierarchy. Not every one agrees with what Mr. Ahmadinejad is doing. In particular, former presidents Hashemi Rafsanjani and Khatami, former speaker of the parliament Mahdi Karroubi, former chief nuclear negotiator Dr. Hassan Rouhani, and more generally the more moderate fraction in Iran are opposed to what Mr. Ahmadinejad is doing. So, a sort of tug of war is also going on within the Iranian political hierarchy about what to do with and about the present crisis, and that is why many contradictory statements are coming out of Iran. For instance, the government spokesperson, Mr. Gholam Hossein Elham, said the other day that Iran is not going to negotiate with the US, but Mr. Ali Larijani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and chief nuclear negotiator says that Iran is ready to negotiate with the United States.
So, as you can see, there are all sorts of differences between different factions. There is a tug of war; there is fissure within the political hierarchy. The radical elements led by Mr. Ahmedinejad and his supporters within the military want to push forward with the enrichment program, but the more moderate ones, while still supporting the enrichment program, want to reach an agreement with the European Union and the US, to make the program as transparent as possible, and then move forward. The relatively moderates do not want any confrontation, in particular military confrontation, or harsh economic sanctions. That is what I believe is happening right now within Iran and, therefore, the coming days and months should be very interesting to watch.
SHAHRAM VAHDANY- I will get back to Iran’s nuclear program later, but I first want to ask you about the Ahmadinejad presidency and what in particular led to his election. What were the contributing factors for Ahmadinejad to win the election?
PROFFESSOR SAHIMI - Well, there were many factors that contributed to the rise of Mr. Ahmadinejad to the presidency, but the most important fact was, of course, that the elections that were held which ultimately led to Mr. Ahmadinejad presidency were undemocratic. In fact, they were neither democratic nor fair. There was a certain level of competition in the election, especially in the first round because we had several candidates from different political factions within the Iranian political spectrum. But the elections were not democratic and fair.
They were not democratic because not everyone who wished to run could run, and they were not fair because the most important conservative elements and centers of power within Iran’s political hierarchy totally threw their support behind Mr. Ahmadinejad, using the vast resources of the State in order to gather votes for him. As is well-known, there were also irregularities in the vote counting, and so on.
These factors greatly contributed to Mr. Ahmadinejad making it to the second round of Iran’s presidential election. Now, in the second round, as I had predicted and said in my interviews right before the second round, almost any candidate who would run against Mr. Rafsanjani would win, regardless of who he was. Because, right or wrong, Mr. Rafsanjani is considered in Iran as symbol of economic mismanagement and/or corruption and what has gone wrong with Iran’s economy over the past two decades. Mr. Rafsanjani could win only if the level of people participation in the elections was very high, for example, the 80% participation that we had in 1997, when Mr. Khatami won, but that was not going to happen, given what had happened during Mr. Khatami’s tenure in office.
The mismanagement of the economy that people associate Mr. Rafsanjani with includes wasting of the resources that Iran has in the projects that were not very useful for Iran, but consumed billions of dollars to be developed. Therefore, almost anyone who was going to run against Mr. Rafsanjani in the second run could win. At the same time, Mr. Ahmadinejad is from a humble background and poor family, and promised that he would bring the oil income to “Iranian families’ tables.” That’s the way he put it during the elections.
People were also tired of political infighting that was going on for 8 years between the moderates and hardliners. In the final analysis, people thought that Mr. Ahmadinejad would improve the economy. That explains, in my view, why in the second round he did get the votes. I believe that although he should not have made it to the second round because of the many irregularities and all sort of things that I explained, once he made it to the second round, he did get the votes. One may question the number of the votes that he got; nevertheless, the votes that he got were to some extend legitimate as he was running against Mr. Rafsanjani who could not get elected. In fact, the reformists in Iran urged Mr. Rafsanjani to withdraw from the second round to allow Mr. Karroubi to run against Mr. Ahmadinejad, but Mr. Rafsanjani was not willing to do so.
This indicated that the reformists also knew that Mr. Rafsanjani was going to lose, unless, of course, they could have the turn out that they had back in 1997 when close to 80% of the people went to the ballot boxes and voted. In that case, Mr. Rafsanjani could have had a reasonably good chance of winning. But the turn-out was much lower this time.
The difference between the potential and actual turn-out that we had in 1997 is made of intellectuals, university students, the middle class and, more generally, the more enlightened people. If they had voted, they would most probably have had voted for Mr. Rafsanjani, because they knew the extreme positions of Mr. Ahmadinejad and his supporters. However, that significant percentage (about 20 to 25 % of the population) did not vote this time.
I believe all these factors contributed to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s election to Iran’s presidency.
SHAHRAM VAHDANY- Many believe Ahmadinejad and his group are somewhat nostalgic about the beginning of revolution and the war between Iraq and Iran, and their focus is to turn back the society to that time when everything was supposedly clearer and people more united against a common enemy. What is your take on this?
PROFFESSOR SAHIMI -Your question has two parts: the first part is whether Mr. Ahmadinejad and his group are nostalgic about the early years of the revolution. Yes, they are. They have been talking about the ideals of the revolution and how they were somehow “stolen” or deviated from their original forms.
We must remember that Mr. Ahmadinejad used to work with the Revolutionary Guards which was the main military force that fought in the internal conflict that Iran had in the early years of the revolution with “Mujaheddin –E- Khalgh” organization that began to fight with the government in 1981. They were also the main force that fought with Iraqi’s invading forces in the 1980s. So, their mentality and ideas all go all the way back to the early years of the revolution, which one must remember that, in their view, was a time that forces that were working for the revolution were purer and more idealistic. So, yes, it is true that they indeed are nostalgic about those years. And they believe that if they turn the clock back and go back to the early years of the revolution, they may have a “better” country.
The second part of your question is whether they can turn the clock back. In my view, that is a very false idea and wrong assumption.
First, the world has changed. The world that we have today is not the world that we had 25-30 years ago, when we had a bipolar world, with one side being the Eastern block and the Soviet Union, and the other side being the Western nations and America.
Secondly, while it is true that in the early years of the revolution Iran did not experience the rampant corruption that it has now, but it also experienced severe political repression. Therefore, there is no reason to believe if they can go back to the early years, they would actually be able to root out the corruptions, impose the repression, and return the country back to where it was in the 1980s.
There are many other forces that are involved. The revolution in the information technology and means of mass communications, like the internet, fax, e-mail, and so on enable people, and more specifically the young people (who make up about 70% of the population), to learn about events around the world, know about liberty, the freedom that people in other countries enjoy. They also want freedom. Not necessarily exactly the same type of freedom that, for instance, young people have in a country like the US, but, nevertheless, they would like to be able to freely express their opinions without fear of prosecution, they would like government not to interfere in their privet lives, and they would like Iran to have a more efficient economy that can provide employment for the mass of the young who is graduating from Iranian universities every year.
Note that in the early years of the revolution, Iran only had a few universities around the country. Now, Iran has about 60 to 70 institutions of higher education, which produce large number of highly educated people. Because the government has not been able to provide adequate employment for them, large numbers of these graduates have been migrating to other countries. According to the United Nations and World Bank statistics, Iran has the largest brain drain among the developing countries.
Therefore, there is no way to create the same situation that Iran had in early years of the revolution. Furthermore, Iranian people revolted against the previous regime in the hope of political and economical improvements. But now that they have experienced the last 25 years, they are more pessimistic and more cynical. They would certainly be far more skeptical to entertain the prospect of returning to the early years of the revolution.
SHAHRAM VAHDANY – Professor, do you believe the Iranian government will welcome conflict and war?
PROFFESSOR SAHIMI - I believe that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s administration would not mind a limited confrontation because, in its view, it would server two purposes:
1- It would enable it to repress the reformist, democratic factions and the political oppositions in Iran under the excuse of a threat to the national security.
2. If there is a limited military exchange or confrontation with the Western powers, that would rally Iranian people around the government by evoking their nationalism. We know that, because of Iran’s proud history and glorious civilization and other cultural factors, there is a strong sense of nationalism among Iranians.
Iran, after all, is not like Iraq which was created only a little over 70 years ago in 1932 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and was created by the colonial powers. Iran has existed for several thousands of years. Therefore, there are very strong sense of nationalism and pride in Iran’s history, culture, and heritage, which should not be ignored.
The Ahmadinejad administration believes that, in case of a military confrontation, the sense of nationalism would help rally people around government and, there is some element of truth to that. I do believe that if there is a military attack on Iran, Iranians, at least those who live in Iran, would rally around the government, as hated or unpopular that it might currently be. But, whether this would be a long-term support or not, is not clear, and is very much questionable. Because, after a while, people will learn that the confrontation was not really necessary and could have been avoided. They would learn that the war was brought on them at least partially because of what Mr. Ahmadinejad and his administration did. For instance, they will learn that the comments, like those that he made regarding Israel (which must be condemned) were used as an excuse and reason to increase pressure on Iran and Iranians. The comments that he made about Jews and Holocaust and the denial of historical events that we know had happened have contributed to the tense situation between Iran and the rest of the world. So, the initial reaction of the people to a confrontation maybe rallying around the government, but after some time people would realize the confrontation was unnecessary and was brought up by the wrong policies of Mr. Ahmadinejad and his administration.
SHAHRAM VAHDANY- Actually that was my next question. Now, we have two scenarios here.
One, the people would realize that the Ahmadinejad administration has contributed and to some extend provoked the confrontation. And the next scenario is that they recognize the Bush administration’s history of provocation and attack on other nations, in particular Iraq, and the fact that most of the worldview is that the war was unnecessary, unprovoked, and unjust war.
My question is what would be the reaction of the people whether they are against the Iranian government or support it, should the US lunch an attack on Iran?
PROFFESSOR SAHIMI - I agree there is no question that the Bush administration has created a situation in the Middle East whereby more radical forces have came to power and, in fact, when you asked my opinion about the factors that contributed to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s election, I should have also added the Bush factor as one of the contributing factors to those which I already pointed out. The Bush administration has indeed created that environment in the entire Middle East.
We must remember that it is not only Iran in which the radical element, such as the current government, has come to power. We also had the elections in the Palestinian Occupied Territories that were accepted universally as free and democratic (monitored by the former US President Jimmy Carter) which gave rise to the election of Hamas, which is a radical Islamic group that has committed terrorist acts, but at the same time provided many social services for the Palestinian people.
We also had the elections in Egypt a while ago which were not democratic; the opposition forces were under huge pressure by the government, and yet the Muslim Brotherhood which is conservative and a sort of radical Islamist group gained a significant fraction of people’s vote.
Therefore, when we add all this together, there should be no doubt that the illegal invasion of Iraq has contributed significantly to the instability of the region, and the political environment that we now have in the Middle East.
In fact, invasion of Iraq has hurt the democratic movement and the reform process in Iran. Because now as soon as the reformist and democratic forces oppose any policy of the Ahmadinejad administration, the response they get is,” do you want Iran to be in the same situation as Iraq is in?”
We must accept that the Bush administration has indeed contributed to this environment, because not only invasion of Iraq and the war were illegal, but also because after invading Iraq no weapons of mass destruction were discovered. No link between Saddam Hussein regime and terrorist groups was established and, in fact, whereas there was no link before, Iraq, now, has became a safe heaven for terrorists. At the same time, I believe that these factors might make the Bush administration more cautious about attacking other countries.
For instance, in his recent State of the Union speech, President Bush did not say that the US would prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, but said that the world will stop Iran. In other words, he likes to create some sort of worldwide coalition against alleged or real attempt of the Iranian government for obtaining nuclear weapons. Therefore, I do not believe that the scenario that happened to Iraq will happen to Iran. I do not believe that the US or any western power would invade Iran. I also believe at this point in time that the probability of any military strike is low, but I also believe it is not out of the question and may happen, because the Bush administration and the Western Europe have been more cautious after what happened in Iraq. They like to take diplomacy as far as they can take it to see what is going to happen.
After all, we must remember that the International Atomic Energy Agency has not found any evidence that Iran is using nuclear technology for weaponization. As yet, at least, it has no evidence whatsoever. People always talk about how Iran violated its obligations toward the NPT which is not true. We must realize that there is a lot of propaganda about this.
For example, the Natanz facility, which is the heatedly debated facility that Iran did not declare to the IAEA for 18 years, has always been used as evidence of Iran’s bad intentions. But, the fact is, according to Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran did not have to declare that facility, because according to NTP any country that builds nuclear facility must notify the IAEA only 180 days before any nuclear material is introduced into the facility. That is the only obligation that Iran had, and based on that, when Iran announced the existence of the Natanz nuclear facility, no nuclear martial had been yet introduced into that facility. Therefore, Iran had not violated any international treaty.
Or, as another example, they talk about how Iran started uranium enrichment, and because of that, it violated some of its NPT obligations. This is also not true. Iran voluntarily stopped its nuclear activity. Iran’s every nuclear activity thus far has been within the NTP agreement. The IAEA monitors and observers have always been there to check and 0confirm everything and make sure that nothing goes out of control, or done secretly. The suspension was voluntary. Even in the agreement that Iran signed with the three European Union nations (the so-called Paris agreement), it was explicitly stated that this is a voluntary suspension. And, these were all well beyond Iran’s obligations toward NTP.
At the same time, Iran started implementing the additional protocol of the NTP without ratifying it by Iranian parliament. Although I don’t agree with practically any of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s policies, one must remember that Iran, to a very large extend, has gone well beyond its formal obligations in order to satisfy the IAEA.
The fact of matter is that the US and the EU are trying to change the NPT agreement for just one country and that is Iran. I support the notion that perhaps we should look at the original NPT agreement and modify it to make it tougher for any country to obtain nuclear technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons, but I am opposed to imposing unilaterally extra conditions and demand, beyond the present obligations of the NTP protocol , on any country in a one-sided manner, so long as the NTP protocol itself has not been modified, because that would create an arbitrary system whereby if we do not like a country we tell them that it must do these extra things, and if we do like a country, it does not have to.
For instance, let’s talk about Pakistan here. Pakistan is not even a signatory of the NPT. It has never signed the treaty. And yet, the United State has designated Pakistan as a none-NATO special ally of the US. One must realize that Pakistan military is populated by Islamic extremists. This is the same military that helped create Taliban in Afghanistan. This is the same military that allowed Abdul Ghadir Khan (father of nuclear bomb in Pakistan) to create a supermarket for nuclear materials in the world and sell the technology to anyone who is willing to pay for it. This is the same country that has been in a sort of state of war with India over the past several decades. In my view, the most dangerous country in the world when it comes to nuclear weapons is Pakistan not Iran or North Korea.
There is no threat from Iran in the present situation, because even if they start the full enrichment programs today, it will take them many, many years before they could master all the technology and setup the required facilities to develop nuclear weapons.
Therefore, there are many issues and angles which we need to consider when we talk about Iran’s nuclear energy program. What we need today is a balanced view of what is going on, not just one-sided discussions.
One of the reasons that I have been writing about Iran’s nuclear energy is to give the public that balanced view of what is going on. For example, one of the things that we never hear is the fact that United States was the one nation which helped start the Iranian nuclear energy program. It was the US that sold the first nuclear reactor to Iran, and it was the US that encouraged the Shah of Iran to go after nuclear energy. It was also the US that did not mind when Shah was trying to secretly make nuclear bomb. These are all documented.
SHAHRAM VAHDANY – In whose administration was that?
PROFFESSOR SAHIMI - They were the Nixon and Ford Administrations.
I have documented these in my own articles. In fact, I pulled out all these documents from the Ford administration’s archives for the public to see. So, the United States and some European countries, such as Germany and France, were the driving fore behind Iran’s nuclear energy program.
They started these 30 years ago when nuclear energy did not have any economical justification for Iran, whereas under Iran’s present situation, given the growth of its population and technology, having nuclear energy is sensible, which did not make sense then.
SHAHRAM VAHDANY - on the same subject I like to ask you, we know that Iran is a country with shortage of water resources, which can be very significant for hydropower. How much nuclear energy would be beneficial for Iran? Is that true that Iran does not need nuclear reactors because it has oil and gas?
PROFFESSOR SAHIMI - Well, I do not believe in arguments like that. I explained in detail the economic justification of nuclear energy in one of my article. Right now Iran generates about 18% of its electricity needs by burning oil; in other words, it uses oil-fired power plant to generate electricity. Now, consider the following argument.
The price is oil right now is about $65 a barrel. When it is $65 a barrel in the US, then Iran‘s oil sells for about $55 to 58 a barrel, and given that the cost of production of the Iranian oil is very low , it is completely is reasonable to assume that the net profit for every barrel of Iran’s oil is about $50. I have all the information about this.
To generate the 18% of electricity that Iran needs by burning oil, Iran, on average, burns about 120 million barrels of oil a year, and so consider the 120 million barrels and the net profit of $50 for each barrel. Then it comes to about 6 billion dollars a year net profit that Iran is losing.
Now building a nuclear reactor that generates about 1000 MW of electricity costs about $1.5 billion in the West, and in Iran should cost less because the regulations are not as tight as the West; however, let’s assume that the cost is the same.
Therefore, with $6 billion of oil export that Iran is losing, it can build four nuclear reactors, generating 4000 MW of electricity. So using just one year of what Iran could earn by exporting the oil it should be able to construct four nuclear reactors, generating almost as much electricity as those of the oil-fired power plants.
Now consider a five-year period over which it takes to build a nuclear reactor. Over five years Iran is losing about $30 billion of oil exports. Therefore, over that period not only we could build enough reactors to compensate for the electricity that are being generated by burning oil, but also could pay for the cost of their operations. A nuclear reactor that generates 1000 MW of electricity costs about $140 million a year to operate and maintain.
So, if they have five of them, every year they need $700m for maintenance. Five reactors generate 5000 MW of electricity and cost about $7.5 billion to build and $700 million to operate. Over five years it comes to about $11 billion altogether.
Over the same period, they earn $30 billion by exporting the same oil that they are burning to generate the same amount of electricity. Therefore, for Iran, given the oil that they can export, is totally economical. We must remember that the useful life of a nuclear reactor is typically about 50 years.
For a country that does not have oil, it may not be as attractive, but for Iran, which can earn money by selling the oil, it is very attractive. This is just one factor and there are many other factors involved. As you pointed out, Iran does not have lots of water, and generating electricity thought hydropower is not a very realistic option. Iran can generate a fraction of its electricity needs thought hydropower, and they have been building dams in Iran in order to do it. But, they can generate at most 20% of their needs through hydropower.
Solar energy is very attractive for Iran but is not economical yet. Wind energy is also an option but that is not economical yet. Even in the US the cost of solar energy is 5 to 8 times more then the cost of nuclear-reactor generated electricity. Therefore, it is not yet economical for the US also.
Furthermore, Iran has made a huge effort to use natural gas to generate electricity. 75% of all of Iran’s electricity is now generated by natural gas, in contrast to when the Shah was in power which was only 8%. The Shah was either burning the natural gas to get rid of it or was exporting it to Russia.
Finally, we can ask ourselves a more general question: Iran has made a big effort to use all the resources that it has since the revolution to generate energy, so does it still need an alternative source of energy other than oil and gas now? If we agree that the answer is yes, then, nuclear energy is one attractive alternative, but surely not the only one.
I wrote extensively about this, and the summary of my research was published by Harvard International Review last year.
SHAHRAM VAHDANY- What about the Russian proposal to move Iran’s nuclear enrichment program to Russia and under their supervision in order to ease the Western countries mind?
PROFFESSOR SAHIMI - Well, the Russian proposal, since its inception, has changed actually. Originally, the proposal was that Iran would keep its facility in Isfahan where it converts the yellow cake to uranium hexafluoride, export UHF to Russia for enrichment, and then get the enriched uranium back. Also, in Russia Iran would have a say in the management of the place, have access to the technology, and so on.
However, this has changed over time. The first change was that Iran would only invest in the Russian enrichment facility and would not get any access to technology. They modified it again and now they are talking about shutting down all the facilities for the nuclear fuel cycle in Iran, including the Isfahan facility which converts yellow cake to UHF and transfer everything to Russia. In that case, if that is the proposal, then, why does Iran need to buy enriched uranium form Russia? Iran can buy it from any Western country; there is nothing attractive about that proposal.
Yes, the original version of the proposal was, in my view, attractive at least as a start-gap and intermediate solution until the international community trusts Iran’s nuclear energy program. However, in the latest version Iran must shut down everything, will not have any access to the technology, and only pay for UHF. That is not a proposal at all. Because Iran could buy enriched uranium from any country and imported. For instance, Brazil could provide that. The IAEA itself could set up a system which can deliver enriched uranium to Iran.
Having said all, my own opinion is that Iran does not need enrichment program at this moment at all. Iran only has one reactor that Russia is completing in Bushehr. And if the political atmosphere allows it, it will be ready to operate later this year. But the fuel for that reactor has been guaranteed by Russians for at least the next ten years. In addition, at this moment not only Iran does not have any other reactor, but also has no plan to build another one in the near future. This means that for the next several years Iran does not need any enrichment facility for a single reactor that may start operating this year. Therefore, there is no reason to put Iran in a position that has to confront and defy the entire world, when there is no need for it.
I support Iran’s fundamental rights to have access to nuclear technology including uranium enrichment, but the fact of the matter is uranium enrichment in Iran is not a legal problem. It is a political problem.
It is not a legal problem because according to the NTP Iran is entitled to have the technology. It is not an economical problem that some nations point out, because even if enrichment is not economical, Iran as an independent nation has the right to choose what technology it wishes to have and import.
It is solely a political problem. The essence of the problem is lack of trust between the Iranian political hierarchy and the Western Europe and the United States. Neither side trusts the other side. And since it is a political problem it needs a political solution. One could not address a political problem by other means. We cannot address it by military invasion, economical sanctions and so fort. It needs a political solution.
The solution in my view is that Iran should suspend all of its enrichment activity now, and focus on one reactor, at least for 5 to 8 years. Thereafter, as Dr. Shirin Ebadi and I pointed in our recent article, Iran will hopefully become more democratic and could renegotiate the suspension and gain international trust.
SHAHRAM VAHDANY- Let me ask you this professor. With the situation that Iran is in now, how likely is a chance of some sort of air strike on the Bushehr facility, something that the Israelis did with Iraq?
PROFFESSOR SAHIMI - I am not a military expert, but let me point out that, Israel is not in a position to lunch an attack, similar to what they did with Iraq, against Iran. Iran has learned from the Iraq experience. It has spread out its facilities all over the country. The actual number of nuclear sites in Iran is anywhere between 20 to 300, and so there is no way anyone could carry out a strike against all of them in one attack. Furthermore, the Israel military is not in any position to carry out such an attack anyway.