Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that “the conclusion that the United States is unlikely to engage in a military strike against Iran is unfortunately probably correct. But, then, the physical survival of the USA is not currently at stake. The same cannot be said for Israel, so it should not be assumed that she will necessarily refrain from taking military action against Iran even ‘without the military and political backing of the United States’.”

Such a view is supported by an article in last Thursday’s “Washington Post” in which David Ignatius reports that “Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June.”

Ignatius concludes: “U.S. officials don’t think that Netanyahu has made a final decision to attack, and they note that top Israeli intelligence officials remain skeptical of the project. But senior Americans doubt that the Israelis are bluffing.”

It is to be hoped that the current half-hearted embargo being exercised against Iran will nevertheless be sufficiently effective to persuade her to forgo her nuclear ambitions. However, I doubt it.

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2 Responses to Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

  1. Phil Cohen says:

    Recently Barry Rubin, whom I consider to be my rebbe in most things Middle East, wrote a column stating that Israel has pretty much already decided not to attack Iran. I do not have the column in front of me as I write this, so it’s coming from memory. The main two reasons, if I recall correctly, are: 1. The damage Israel could inflict on Iran in an attack of its nuclear industry, which would be relatively minimal, could not justify the likely regional response. An act, or more correctly, a series of acts, would delay Iran’s nuclear ambitions for no more than a couple of years.
    2. Rubin believes Israel has sufficient defense capability to stop an incoming Iranian missile. This latter makes a certain amount of sense to me, as, at this point in time, the Iranians would not be lobbing a series of missiles at Israel but only one, perhaps two. The distance between Iran and Israel, Rubin says, would provide sufficient time to mount its defensive shield. I myself am not persuaded that Iran is truly ready to sacrifice millions of its own people for the sake of inflicting, or attempting to inflict, serious damage to Israel. I do not wish to test this hypothesis mind you, but it seems nutty to me that any sovereign nation would perform an act knowing that there would be a likely devastating response. Further, in all the years Iran has been functioning as a provocateur, I cannot think of any act that they have performed that was overtly suicidal. As I say, I have no wish to see this hypothesis tested, but it makes a certain degree of sense to me.

    Phil Cohen

    • Rabbi Michael (Micky) Boyden says:

      Dear Phil,

      What you write makes a lot of sense. If the issue were limited to a potential Iranian rocket attack on the Jewish State, then I believe you are correct in stating that Israel has the military capability to intercept such a missile while still in flight. However, I think you will agree that there are a number of other issues that are also related to Iran’s nuclear weapons programme.

      1. A nuclear Iran would change the whole balance of power in the Middle East.
      2. The possession of nuclear weapons by Iran would lead to a nuclear arms race in which Arab nations in the region would want to develop their own nuclear arsenals to defend themselves.
      3. Nothing would stop Iran from equipping its proteges (i.e. Hamas, Hezbollah, etc.) with dirty bombs or the like, which they could then use against Israel, or, for that matter, targets in Europe or North America. You say that Iran has not performed any act that was overtly suicidal. While that is true, the same cannot be said, of course, for either Hamas or the Hezbollah.

      You state twice in your remarks that you would not wish to test your hypothesis. That is, of course, one of Israel’s problems. We cannot afford to get it wrong even once. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!”

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