Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) and the Mossad intelligence agency are preparing
for the most complex and dramatic challenge it has faced in sixty years—a nuclear-armed Iran. They are left with 3 options:
- Launch a military strike, which could lead to an all-out regional war.
- Accept a nuclear Iran, which would lead to a new balance of power in the Middle East.
- Expand their intelligence networks in Iran and continue to degrade Iran’s chances of success in creating a nuclear bomb by accelerating a covert campaign of assassinations of Iran’s nuclear scientists, bombings, defections and digital attacks against Iran’s computer systems, plus collecting quality HUMINT with Mossad agents gaining access to the highest echelons of the Iranian regime.
Unfortunately, as Iran nears its nuclear weaponry success, Israel’s options will be reduced to the first options. Hopefully, the U.S. won’t underestimate how the Iranian threat is perceived by Israeli and misjudge the variety of strategic options Israeli willingly deploy to confront it. This uncertainty has existed for decades and the relationship between Iran, Israel, and the United States has always been uneasy and troubled.
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The U.S. desires to negotiate, to talk, to “move forward”, even though Iran despises American foreign policy and has never forgotten the events and aftermath of the 1979 hostage crisis. Meanwhile, the ongoing tensions between Iran and Israel, and the recent U.S. confrontations via the Straight of Hormuz and Iran’s threat to cut-off oil are highly dangerous events for the Middle East. Chances are good that a spark will ignite another major war in the region, a war beyond our wildest dreams, possibly involving China and Russia as well.
I feel there is no chance for a successful mediation process between the U.S. and Iran. After all, Iran has supported terrorism for decades, funded and trained its terrorist proxy Hezbollah, pursued nuclear capability and weaponry, influenced the Iraqi Kurdish region, and used a unique ideology to achieve hardheaded national interest objectives based on extremist ideological goals.
The US underestimates Iranian resolve and the more we throw economic barriers in their way, the more unified Iran becomes. Take the 2007 Gasoline Rationing Plan, for example. It was launched by president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s cabinet to reduce that country’s fuel consumption. Although Iran is one of the world’s largest producers of petroleum, rapid increases in demand and limited refining capacity has forced the country to import about 40% of its gasoline, at an annual cost of up to $7 billion. The fuel rationing originally triggered discontent in Iran, but, according to CIA analysts, the Iranian government is hoping that reducing gasoline imports will help insulate the country from international pressure related to its nuclear program.
“We will greatly suffer if they (foreign countries) suddenly decide not to sell us fuel,” said Iranian political analyst Saeed Leylaz. “Fuel rationing is a security-economic decision to reduce fuel consumption.” In an interview Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: “They [Americans] had a plan and idea that is neutralized. They don’t know our nation. They think if they refuse to provide us with gasoline, our nation would say we don’t want nuclear energy.”
Once again, the U.S. is caught between Israel’s justified paranoia and Iran’s bellicose and radical nature. I support Israel in its attempts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities. Iran has murdered Israeli citizens throughout the world, for years. Do we not remember the AMIA bombing attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina building in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994, that killed 85 people and injured hundreds? Argentina is home to a Jewish community of 200,000, the largest in Latin America.
Jews are not safe, anywhere. This bombing case went to court and was marked by incompetence and accusations of cover-ups. All suspects in the “local connection” were found to be not guilty in September 2004. In August 2005, federal judge Juan José Galeano, in charge of the case, was impeached and removed from his post on charge of “serious” irregularities and of mishandling of the investigation. On October 25, 2006, Argentine prosecutors Alberto Nisman and Marcelo Martínez Burgos formally accused the government of Iran of directing the bombing, and Iran’s terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, of planning and executing the bombing attack. According to the prosecution’s claims in 2006, Argentina had been targeted by Iran after Buenos Aires’ decision to suspend a nuclear technology transfer contract to Tehran.
So, I ask you, “Do we really want a nuclear Iran?” Even if Iran doesn’t perfect a nuclear weapon, their nuclear power plants will produce tons of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) and spent nuclear fuel rods for Hezbollah to create a “super dirty” radioactive bomb. Possibly, to explode inside Israel…or downtown Manhattan or Washington, DC.
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I reviewed the Congressional Research Service Report: “The Obama Administration identifies Iran as a major threat to U.S. national security interests”. The US shares a paranoia with Israel: the perception generated by suspicions of Iran’s intentions for its nuclear program— heightened by a November 8, 2011, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report. We both share a paranoia about Iran’s support for militant groups in the Middle East and in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Obama administration accuses Iran of helping Syria’s Assad to defeat the growing popular opposition movement and of taking advantage of Shiite majority unrest against the Sunni-led, pro-U.S. government of Bahrain. Then, there is Iran’s late-December 2011 threat to try to choke off much of the world’s oil supplies by attempting to close the Strait of Hormuz—a reaction to the imposition of significant sanctions against Iran’s vital exports of oil.
Now, Israeli is talking bellicose…and rightfully so. There is an imminent sense of crisis surrounding Iran brought on by Israel’s recent criticism of the US, the Obama administration in particular, for not acknowledging the nuclear threat that Iran poses. Israel is threatening to buck U.S. advice to not attack Iran’s nuclear program. After all, for the past three years the Obama Administration has assembled a broad international coalition to pressure Iran through economic sanctions while also offering sustained engagement with them. None of the pressure has, to date, altered Iran’s pursuit of its nuclear program.
Can we not blame Israel for chastising the US? Remember when Iran attended the December 2010 and January 2011 talks with the six powers? All tried to negotiate with Iran, but zero progress was made. However, things may have changed. Since early 2012, significant multilateral sanctions have been added on Iran’s oil exports, including an oil purchase embargo by the European Union which went into full effect on July 1, 2012. Since then, according to the Congressional Research Report, there has been growing indications that Iran feels economic pressure, thus their leaders threatened to not only block commerce in the Strait of Hormuz, but also to enter into new nuclear talks without preconditions. At the same time, Iran began uranium enrichment at a deep underground facility near Qom. Hmmm…if I were an Israeli, upon hearing this, I would grow paranoid right quick! I believe that the chances are increasing for a super-dirty, radioactive bomb created with Iranian HEU to be detonated inside the US or Israeli, via Iran’s terrorist proxy, Hezbollah.
The Obama administration uses indicators such as Iran’s economic deterioration and its willingness to engage in new talks as evidence that the policy is starting to work and should be given more time before any consideration of U.S. or Israeli military options.
The Honorable Zbigniew Brzezinski, former US National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, once commented on how U.S. policy in the Middle East has been manipulated both by Iran and by Israel as relations between the two oscillated between secret collusion and overt collision. He’s so right.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the online series, “Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean”. The views he expresses are not those of any organization he is a member of.