Defying the international community, Iran has continued its efforts to enrich uranium, building up a stockpile of 60 percent enriched uranium which, according to the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), would be sufficient to construct “several” (perhaps as many as 5) nuclear bombs. For its own reasons, the Islamic regime has still refrained from announcing that it has crossed a critical threshold by declaring itself to be the world’s newest nuclear-armed power. However, Western nuclear weapons experts say that at this point, Iran would need only around two weeks to convert enough of its current stockpile of 60% enriched uranium to the 90% level of purity needed to build an atomic bomb.
In February, the IAEA revealed that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium was over 10 times what it had under when it was still abiding by the limits of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal. Under that agreement, Iran was not permitted to enrich its uranium beyond 3.67% purity, just enough to power a civilian nuclear reactor, and its low-enriched stockpile of uranium was limited to no more than 660 pounds, which is not enough, even if further enriched, to build even one nuclear weapon.
The IAEA has also reported that at Iran’s underground nuclear facility at Fordow, it had recently refined a small quantity of uranium to 84% purity, just 6% shy of the 90% concentration required for weapons-grade uranium. While Iran’s leaders continue to deny that they are seeking to make nuclear weapons, they are now, for the first time, willing to openly discuss their ability to build them, in an apparent effort to further intimidate its Shiite Arab neighbors in the region, as well as Israel.
By continuing to violate the terms of the 2015 deal, Iran also appears to be testing the resolve of both U.S. President Joe Biden and Israel’s prime minister, Binyomin Netanyahu, who have repeatedly said that they would not permit Iran to build a nuclear weapon.
Israel has long made it clear that despite the risks, it is fully prepared to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities if all else fails to stop them. But in its most recent statement on the subject, the White House said, “We believe diplomacy is the best way to achieve that goal, but the president has also been clear that we have not removed any option from the table.”
Earlier this month, Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that the Biden administration had “made it clear to Iran that it can never be permitted to obtain a nuclear weapon. As President Biden has repeatedly reaffirmed, he will take the actions that are necessary to stand by this statement, including recognizing Israel’s freedom of action.
“We’ve restored unity of purpose between the United States and Europe and much of the world against Iranian provocations, nuclear activities,” Sullivan continued, while noting that the U.S. is still exerting strong economic pressure on “Iran through sanctions,” with the goal of forcing Iran to return to the indirect nuclear negotiations in Vienna with the U.S. that bogged down six months ago.
EUROPEANS STILL WANT TO REVIVE THE 2015 DEAL
Meanwhile, Britain, France, and Germany, the European countries who also signed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, are increasingly alarmed by Iran’s recent enrichment of uranium at close to weapons-grade levels. While acknowledging that any new effort to keep a lid on Iran’s nuclear advances may already be too late, the Europeans have continued to press the Biden administration to revive the diplomatic negotiations with Iran. Those talks collapsed in December when Tehran began to backtrack on elements of a deal that it had already agreed upon, and then added new, unrelated demands that the Iranians must have known that the U.S. could not possibly meet.
Biden, who was vice president to Barack Obama when the original nuclear agreement was signed in 2015, had campaigned for president in 2020 on a promise to revive that deal which collapsed in May, 2018, after then-president Donald Trump decided to walk away from the agreement. Shortly after Biden took office, in early 2021, he launched such an effort, and engaged in 18 months of humiliating, indirect talks with the Iranians before the negotiations collapsed.
The talks had been held in Vienna, between Iran, Russia, China, Britain France, and Germany. Iran insultingly refused to talk directly with the U.S. delegation in Vienna, which then had to conduct the negotiations with the Iranians by using European diplomats as go-betweens.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration continued to enforce the economic sanctions on Iran that former President Donald Trump had unilaterally re-imposed, hoping to use them as pressure on Iran to come to a new agreement. But instead, Iran responded by deliberately violating the original terms of the 2015 agreement, one by one, which, by now, has rendered that deal obsolete and effectively moot.
WHY BIDEN HAS GIVEN UP ON IRAN TALKS FOR NOW
Meanwhile, apparently, for purely domestic political reasons, the Biden White House has shelved its efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, at least until after the 2024 U.S. presidential election. Congressional support for an Iran deal was already faltering last year, long before the indirect negotiations with Iran had collapsed. Now that Iran has become a major arms supplier supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine, any renewed effort to revive the 2015 nuclear deal would be even more difficult for the White House to justify.
At a minimum, renewing the 2015 agreement would inevitably lead to another embarrassing economic windfall for Iran, due to the end of U.S. sanctions on its oil exports, as well as the restoration of Iran’s access to tens of billions of dollars from its oil export revenues that have been frozen by U.S. banking sanctions on Iran.
According to Michael Singh, managing director at the Washington Institute and a former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, the Biden administration has now put “the Iran issue on the back burner and is hoping that it won’t come to a boil for now. . . [Meanwhile,] Tehran is instead plowing ahead with its nuclear advances, frustrating U.S. hopes that the issue can simply be shelved [for the time being] in favor of other [foreign policy] priorities like [support for] Ukraine and Taiwan.”
WHY EVEN AN INTERIM DEAL IS OFF THE TABLE
While any attempt to revive the original 2015 nuclear deal now appears to be off the table, some European diplomats are still trying to find other diplomatic options for halting Iran’s nuclear weapons drive. One suggestion is to offer Iran some form of interim agreement, calling upon it to stop producing 60% enriched uranium and possibly reduce its highly enriched stockpile in return for some modest sanctions relief.
Publicly, Iran has said that it would reject any kind of interim deal and has been insisting on the restoration of the original 2015 agreement with no major changes. In addition, Iran has been insisting on guarantees that if the original deal is restored, it could not be annulled by the next U.S. president to be elected next year, as Trump did in 2018. They are also refusing to cooperate in an ongoing IAEA investigation into undeclared nuclear material that its inspectors had found in Iran, in a clear violation of the original agreement. The Iranian message is clear: while they would like to get out from under the U.S. sanctions, they will not agree to a renewal of the original 2015 nuclear deal unless the U.S. is willing to do it entirely on Iran’s terms.
Israeli officials have also long opposed trying to negotiate any interim nuclear deal with Iran as the worst of all possible options, because it would be seen in the international community as rewarding Iran for becoming a nuclear-weapon threshold state.
Because of the latest advances in Iran’s nuclear program, Israeli leaders and military experts across the political spectrum now agree that any window of opportunity for a diplomatic solution with Iran has now finally closed. That leaves the use of military force as the only remaining way to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Nevertheless, the Biden administration is still talking about reviving the original 2015 Iran nuclear deal as if it still is a realistic possibility, at least for the future. “The best way to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is an effective agreement that stops them from getting a nuclear weapon,” Biden’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, said in remarks at the Washington Institute last week.
THE U.S. AND ITS ALLIES STILL HAVE NO “PLAN B”
However, to the frustration of America’s European allies, U.S. officials have yet to reach any consensus on what kind of new nuclear proposal they could try to sell to Iran that would be both workable and politically acceptable to Biden’s voter base in the United States.
Meanwhile, France, Britain, and Germany have been trying on their own to keep the option of some kind of nuclear deal with Iran alive. In March, senior European officials met unofficially in Oslo with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali-Bagheri Kani, to explore those possibilities, but no breakthroughs were achieved.
While Iranian officials still say that they support a return to the 2015 deal, as a practical matter, they have been acting as though they have lost interest, possibly out of the belief that eventually a weak President Biden, eager to remove the remaining U.S. military forces from the Middle East, will eventually give in to all of their demands.
PENCE LETTER CALLS FOR BIDEN TO TAKE A TOUGHER APPROACH
That concern was the subject of a letter sent last week by former Vice President Mike Pence and 107 other former world leaders to President Biden, calling upon the U.S. and its allies to adopt a much tougher approach to Iran and to come out in support of Iran’s anti-government protesters who have been demanding regime change in Tehran. In addition to Pence, the signatories of the letter included former British Prime Minister Liz Truss, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, two former European Commission presidents, and dozens of other ex-heads of state.
The protests erupted across Iran in September, after a young woman died while in the custody of Iran’s Islamic morality police, which had detained her for wearing her hijab, an Islamic head covering, in an “improper” way. Since then, the protests have grown in scope and intensity, reaching all of Iran’s 31 provinces and nearly 300 cities. In response, the Tehran regime has viciously cracked down on the demonstrations, during which hundreds of protesters have reportedly been killed and tens of thousands arrested,
“We believe it is time to hold the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran to account for its crimes,” the Pence letter stated. “We encourage you to stand in solidarity with the people of Iran in their desire for a secular and democratic republic where no individual, regardless of religion or birthright, has any privilege over others…
“We urge your nations to stand with the Iranian people in their quest for change and to take decisive steps against the current regime. This includes blacklisting the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and holding regime officials accountable for their crimes against humanity.”
The Pence letter, which was addressed, in addition to Biden, to the prime ministers of Canada, Great Britain, and the other U.S. allies in Europe who signed the 2015 nuclear deal, also condemns Iran’s “meddling” in the Middle East and Europe; its new role in supplying Russia with lethal drones to use in Ukraine, and Iran’s support for attempted terrorist attacks on European soil.
GOP SENATORS BLAST BIDEN FOR HIS LACK OF AN IRAN STRATEGY
Meanwhile, several U.S. senators who recently received a classified briefing from administration officials on its policies towards Iran have also expressed their deep dissatisfaction.
“It’s been six months since President Biden declared the [Iran nuclear deal] ‘dead’ and we’re still no closer to a more comprehensive Iran policy,” said Senator Jim Risch, of Idaho, the ranking GOP member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, shortly after the briefing. “Strategic ambiguity on Iran policy only serves to embolden the regime and push our partners closer to China. As Iran continues to illegally seize vessels, target Americans in the region, and support its terror proxies and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Americans deserve a policy that is more than a failed nuclear negotiation.”
GOP Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri expressed similar concerns upon emerging from the same briefing. “Based on what I heard for the last 40 minutes, they [the Biden administration] don’t really have much to say on the topic [of Iran]. I didn’t think it was a particularly useful briefing. I don’t know if they really have a coherent strategy. If there is one, I didn’t hear it,” Hawley complained.
ISRAELI LEADERS OPENLY TALKING ABOUT A PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE
Meanwhile, as the Biden administration has already begun a slow military withdrawal from the region, Israel has been stepping up its low-intensity military campaign against Iran’s expanding military presence, especially along Israel’s northern border with Syria, while at the same time making open preparations for a long-anticipated pre-emptive first strike on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.
“We have the ability to hit Iran,” Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, publicly boasted last week during a visit to the Hatzor Air Force Base, and then added that Israel is preparing for a “complex, difficult and more significant objective.”
That capability was demonstrated in February when the U.S. military and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducted a joint training drill called Juniper Falcon. According to the IDF’s website, “The exercise tested collective U.S.-Israel readiness and strengthened the interoperability between the two militaries.”
Jason Brodsky, the policy director of the U.S.-based United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI), told Fox News that he believes that the threat of an attack from Israel is the only thing that is still preventing Iran from publicly declaring its status as a nuclear-armed power. “I think Iran’s leadership to date has calculated the costs of doing so would outweigh the benefits at this juncture — mainly a destructive attack which targets its entire nuclear infrastructure,”
IRAN TESTING THE INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR RED LINES
“But my concern is that calculation risks changing [and that] the U.S. and Europe’s non-response to Iran’s nuclear escalation over the last two years. . . has emboldened Tehran’s leadership to continue testing international red lines.”
Brodsky added that “If that perception is not altered, Iran is likely to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels at 90%. Tehran’s risk-aversion to date shows that it can be deterred. But that can quickly change if the Islamic Republic receives no pushback as it advances its nuclear program.”
Lisa Daftari, an Iran expert and editor-in-chief of the Foreign Desk, also agrees that at this point, Israel itself is the main deterrent to Iran declaring itself to be a nuclear power. She notes that, “Israel has reportedly conducted at least two dozen targeted operations on Iran’s regime in the last 15 or so years, including drone attacks, cyberattacks, if you recall [the] Stuxnet [virus] and assassinations of key players in Iran’s nuclear program.”
WEAKENING THE PRESSURE ON IRAN INCREASES THE DANGER OF WAR
“Iran’s regime is quite calculating,” Daftari added. “[Yet,] as rogue as they have been in capturing oil tankers in the seas, continuing the support of regional terror and, of course, the brutal wholesale executions of innocent protesters, they continue to weigh out the consequences of a heated military confrontation with Israel or the United States. . .
“We cannot underestimate the power of international pressure on Iran’s regime. That pressure has been [weakened] under this current [Biden] administration, who, while stepping away from the nuclear deal, are still hoping to revive some form of normalization agreement with Tehran. Otherwise, when there is consistent and targeted pressure on Iran’s regime in the form of enforced sanctions and economic and political isolation, we see a weakened regime and an emboldened Iranian people who are brave enough to take to the streets,” Daftari said.
Meanwhile, last week, Iran unveiled its latest long-range ballistic missile, which was apparently developed specifically for the purpose of attacking Israel. The Iranians have named the missile Khaybar, after the place in present-day Saudi Arabia where the forces of the Muslim prophet Muhammed defeated ancient Jewish tribes in the year 628 C.E. According to Iran’s state-run news agency, the missile has a range of up to 1200 miles and carries a 3,300 pound warhead.
The fourth-generation rocket was introduced during a nationally broadcast ceremony attended by Iran’s defense minister, Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, and which featured a replica of the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Har Habayis. According to Ashtiani, the new missile also features new “radar-evading technology” meant to defeat Israel’s highly capable missile defenses.
IRAN BUILDING ANOTHER BUNKER BOMB-PROOF NUCLEAR FACILITY
Meanwhile, the Associated Press also reported last week that Iran is now building a new nuclear technology complex in tunnels burrowing deep underneath the Zagros Mountains and which are designed to withstand an attack from even the most advanced American bunker-buster bombs.
The report is based upon civilian satellite images taken in April by Planet Labs, showing the “steady progress” of a massive excavation into the Kūh-e Kolang Gaz Lā, or “Pickaxe Mountain,” located just to the south of Iran’s main uranium enrichment site in the city of Natanz. The scale of the huge new underground facility can be estimated by the size of the large dirt mounds of excavated earth, two to the west and one to the east. Experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies told the AP that the new facility is likely being built at a depth of between 80 meters (260 feet) and 100 meters (328 feet) within the mountain.
Steven De La Fuente, a research associate at the James Martin Center who led the analysis of the satellite photos explained that “the depth of the facility is a concern because it would be much harder. . . to destroy using conventional weapons, such as a typical bunker-buster bomb.”
Furthermore, the new facility isn’t the only Iranian nuclear lab that was designed to be impervious to air attack by either the U.S. or Israel. Almost 20 years ago, another advanced nuclear laboratory was secretly built by Iran 90 meters (295 feet) under a mountain at Fordow, with additional protection from air attack using bunker-busting bombs by a thick layer of reinforced concrete. The Fordow plant’s existence was first publicly revealed in September 2009 in a joint letter sent by U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Nicholas Sarkozy, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the IAEA, and it, also, was placed under IAEA supervision by the original 2015 nuclear deal.
AMERICA RESPONDS BY DEVELOPING MORE POWERFUL BUNKER BOMBS
These underground facilities were specifically designed to survive attacks using the U.S. military’s most powerful, deeply burrowing bunker-buster bomb known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP). They are precision-guided weapons carrying powerful conventional explosives which were specifically designed to penetrate highly fortified targets which they can hit with great accuracy.
In 2007, the U.S. military publicly stated that the maximum depth of the targets that the 30,000-pound class GBU-57/B MOPs could reach at that time was around 60 meters (200 feet). Presumably, the newest versions of the weapon, designated as the GBU-57E/B and GBU-57F/B, can penetrate even deeper than the earlier MOP variants, but it is still not clear whether they can penetrate deep enough, on their own, to destroy the Iranian nuclear installations. If not, then the U.S. Air Force might have to resort to other tactics.
One such possibility is to take advantage of the pinpoint accuracy of the MOP’s GPS guidance system to drop a series of bunker-buster bombs precisely on the same target, using America’s B-2 stealth bombers, which are currently the only aircraft in the Air Force’s inventory capable of carrying out such an attack. The first bunker-buster bomb to be dropped would soften up the ground, and blast open the top protective layers of reinforced concrete, while the second bomb, dropped in exactly the same spot, would “dig down” the rest of the way to reach and destroy the targeted nuclear facility deep under the mountain.
However, if that, too fails, then the last resort would be for the U.S. Air Force to use one of its guided B61-12 nuclear bombs as the ultimate bunker buster, as had been publicly suggested back in 2014 by then-Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz, during a speech to a security conference.
HOW ISRAEL HAS BEEN ATTACKING IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The mostly above-ground complex at Natanz has long served as Iran’s main nuclear development center. Construction of the core elements of the facility began in the early 2000s. From the outset, the 1-square-mile area was heavily protected from attack by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), as well as a huge concentration of Iran’s most advanced Russian-built anti-aircraft batteries.
Nevertheless, in 2010, many of the uranium enrichment centrifuges at Natanz were destroyed by the introduction of the Stuxnet virus, which was jointly developed by the U.S. and Israel, and then secretly implanted into the computers controlling the centrifuges. Israel is also believed to have assassinated the top scientists involved in Iran’s nuclear program, and carried out other effective acts of sabotage to further delay the program’s development.
In September 2020, Iran announced it would be replacing its main above-ground nuclear plant at Natanz which had been destroyed that June by a fire which it also accused Israel of setting, with a new facility in the nearby mountains. Presumably, that is the purpose of its newly detected excavations at Pickaxe Mountain.
Kelsey Davenport, director of nonproliferation policy at the Washington-based Arms Control Association, said that Iran’s completion of the new underground nuclear site near Natanz “would be a nightmare scenario that risks igniting a new escalatory spiral… Given how close Iran is to [obtaining] a bomb, it has very little room to ratchet up its program without tripping U.S. and Israeli red lines. So at this point, any further escalation increases the risk of conflict.”
Davenport also said that while “sabotage may roll back Iran’s nuclear program in the short-term, it is not a viable, long-term strategy for guarding against a nuclear-armed Iran.” Instead, she believes that “driving Iran’s nuclear program further underground [only] increases the proliferation risk.”
IRAN IS HIJACKING OIL TANKERS IN THE PERSIAN GULF
Yet another potential flash point for a military confrontation between the U.S. and Iran is in the Persian Gulf, where the warships of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, have increased their patrols in response to the recent seizure by Iran of two oil tankers while they were in the international waters. Such ships are most vulnerable to attack when they are passing through the narrow, 21-mile-wide chokepoint known as Strait of Hormuz, at the eastern entrance to the Gulf, which is bordered on one side by the United Arab Emirates and Oman and by Iran on the other side.
Iranian naval attacks on civilian vessels in the Persian Gulf are not new. According to Pentagon and White House officials, since 2021, Iran has “harassed, attacked or interfered” with 15 internationally flagged merchant ships in the Persian Gulf.
In fact, U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships have been patrolling the waters in the region for many years. During the late 1980s, U.S. Navy vessels were tasked under Operation Earnest Will with escorting foreign-flagged tankers in the Persian Gulf to prevent them from being harassed by Iranian gunboats. More recently, their main mission had been to intercept Iran’s illegal arms shipments to its terrorist allies in Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon, and, even more recently, the shipments of hundreds of Iranian-made attack drones for Russia’s use in the war in Ukraine.
The Fifth Fleet’s current mission was further expanded in April, after Iranian IRGC commandos were landed by helicopter on the deck of a tanker named Advantage Sweet, which had been chartered by Chevron to transport 750,000 barrels of crude oil from Kuwait to Houston, and was flying the flag of the Marshal Islands, just after it had passed through the Strait.
Just six days later, Iranian navy speedboats surrounded the Niovi, a Panama-flagged tanker, shortly after it left a dry dock in the Gulf port city of Dubai, which was then forced to sail into Iranian waters.
The latest pair of Iranian hijackings were apparently triggered by the U.S. seizure of an Iranian oil shipment on a tanker named the Suez Rajan, in the nearby Gulf of Oman. After their action had been duly authorized by a U.S. court order, U.S. forces seized the ship on the grounds that it had violated U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil exports.
U.S. TRYING TO FLEX ITS MUSCLES IN THE MIDDLE EAST
In response to Iran’s latest acts of piracy, John Kirby, the spokesman for the White House National Security Council, announced the stepped-up U.S. naval patrols and publicly declared that the United States “will not allow foreign or regional powers to jeopardize freedom of navigation in the Middle waterways, including the Strait of Hormuz.” British and French operating in the same area have also stepped up their efforts to protect oil tankers and other merchant ships passing through the Gulf Strait of Hormuz from Iranian harassment.
In recent days, the U.S. Navy has “shown the flag” by sailing the guided missile destroyer U.S.S. Paul Hamilton, as well as a U.S. Coast Guard cutter through the strait. The Pentagon has also announced that it was extending the tour of duty of the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush in the eastern Mediterranean, sending Air Force A-10 attack planes to fortify its bases in the Middle East, as well as a nuclear-guided missile submarine to the area.
ISRAELI OFFICIALS SAY THEY ARE READY TO ATTACK
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, speaking at the annual Herzliya security and intelligence conference, said that Israel was not surprised by the report of a major new underground Iranian nuclear facility under construction, but that since the new facility near Natanz is still years away from completion, it probably does not pose an immediate threat to Israel’s security.
Hanegbi did admit that “of course, it limits the ability to attack,” but then added confidently that “there is no place that can’t be reached [by the U.S. or Israeli military].”
While he stressed that Israel would prefer that Iran’s nuclear program be stopped through a diplomatic agreement, rather than by military action, Hanegbi added that if Israel’s leaders reach the conclusion “that there is no avoiding military action against the nuclear facilities in Iran,” they would not hesitate. “I think that any Israeli leader will have full backing from Israel’s society and the state to do what Menachem Begin did in 1981 [when he ordered the bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor, and] what [then-Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert did in 2007 [when he sent Israeli planes to destroy a suspected nuclear facility hidden in the Syrian desert].” Israel would launch such a strike, Hanegbi declared, once it became clear that “all the other options aren’t effective anymore.”
He then added, “We are sending the message, [and] so is the U.S., that if you cross the [nuclear] red line, the price you will pay as a regime and as a country is one you wouldn’t want to pay, so be careful.” Hanegbi also said that while Israel and America agree on that red line, they still have different approaches on how to keep Iran from getting there.
Speaking at the same Herzliya security conference, Israel’s Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, said “that the Iranian issue has been his main focus. . . “Since I took office, the number of Israeli attacks against Iranians in Syria has doubled. As part of this campaign, we systematically work to target Iranian intelligence capabilities in Syria, and these attacks cause significant damage to the consolidation efforts of the Revolutionary Guards, just a few kilometers from the Israeli border.”
A NUCLEAR-ARMED IRAN WOULD THREATEN THE ENTIRE WORLD
The Israel defense minister then warned that, “The Iranian nuclear program is in its most advanced stage. Iran, with nuclear weapons, would pose a severe strategic threat to the entire world, including Israel and other countries in the Middle East. . .
“Enriching uranium to 90% would be a grave mistake on Iran’s part, and the regime in Tehran should understand that this would come at a heavy price and have severe consequences for the Middle East. When it comes to Iran’s intention to acquire nuclear weapons, all options are on the table. . .
Back in November, the IDF’s chief of intelligence, General Aharon Haliva, warned that he was expecting Iran to soon start experimenting with the production of fully enriched, 90% pure weaponized uranium, which would enable Iran to achieve an almost immediate nuclear weapons break-out any time that it wanted to.
IRAN PUTTING WEAPONS ON ITS CIVILIAN SHIPS
Gallant noted a new threat in the Persian Gulf region — large ocean-going vessels that the Iranians have transformed into attack ships, by equipping them with offensive armaments, including aircraft and missiles, in order “to serve as forward terror bases in areas located far from the Iranian border.”
The defense minister also said that, “in recent years, Iran has been engaging in a process of the geographical and ideological takeover of the region’s countries. Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and even the Gaza Strip. The Iranian intentions go far beyond that. With the changes in the Middle East, Iran is moving westward and attempting to create a land bridge from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea through its proxies, aiming to dominate [using] the extremist Shiite ideology and the Iranian regime of darkness.”
ISRAEL PREPARES AS U.S. LEAVES A DANGEROUS POWER VACUUM
With the Biden administration now signaling its intentions to further withdraw the U.S. military presence from the region, Iran has been moving swiftly to fill the power vacuum that would be left behind. Even Iran’s main long-term adversary in the region, Saudi Arabia, has recently moved to restore diplomatic relations with Iran out of its recognition that it can no longer rely on the U.S. for protection against Iranian aggression.
But Israel does not have that option. Since Iran’s Shiite leaders have no interest in making peace with Israel, it has no choice but to continue making its preparations for a pre-emptive war with Iran, hopefully with U.S. help, but more likely alone, and preferably before Iran’s nuclear capability becomes a reality rather than later, Hashem Yerachem.