Iran continues to pose a major threat to Israel, the Middle East and the world.
This week, during the Herzliya Conference at Reichman University, Israel’s top security and defense officials raised the alarm about Iran’s continued advances toward a nuclear weapon.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi said that Iran has in recent years enriched uranium more than ever before. This is a major concern and means that the Islamic Republic has steered a path to nuclear capability, he indicated. The overall picture is that Iran continues its nefarious behavior on numerous fronts and that Israel cannot let its guard down.
It is important to focus on the comments by our senior defense officials, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, to understand that while we should not be overly alarmist about the Iranian threat, we also need to prepare for the continued provocations that Tehran will likely throw at us in the near term.
The good news is that while Iran has been ominously increasing its enrichment of uranium beyond what is needed for civilian use, it has not yet decided to break out toward a nuclear weapon, and has not quite reached the 90% level needed for weaponization. Even when Iran reaches that level, it would need to create a weapon and the means to carry and test it. All of these are redlines.
A missile is launched during an annual drill in the coastal area of the Gulf of Oman and near the Strait of Hormuz, Iran (credit: REUTERS)
Iran has already violated every principle of international law
Iran cannot be permitted to approach development of a nuclear bomb because once it has weaponized uranium it will be able to blackmail the region. Tehran has already violated every principle of international law. The regime brutally executes innocent dissidents whose only crime is to oppose the regime.
It has stepped up attacks on ships in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, and key Western countries are helping to try to secure the sea routes to protect tankers from Iranian attack. However, Iran’s relative impunity at sea was highlighted this week by Gallant, who revealed that it has turned ships into floating terror platforms.
Israel has long understood that Iran represents the primary threat in the region. Unlike previous conventional military or terrorist threats, Iran combines multiple types of threats into one sprawling matrix that it seeks to use against the Jewish state.
Tehran is open about its desire to attack Israel on multiple fronts. It wants to weaken Israel internally, and it supplies and funds proxies and militias around Israel – like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – to carry out attacks against it.
Israel has the capabilities to confront Iran and its proxies. Our allies in the West, as well as our friends in the region, understand the need to prevent Iran’s attacks. It is important that we continue to work closely with our allies and seek opportunities to partner with them.
For instance, Israel’s defense cooperation with the US, including joint drills with the US Central Command, are an important component of its readiness to deal with Iranian threats. In addition, maritime actions by the US, UK and France are important to secure the waterways.
Israel’s increased recognition of the Iranian threat at sea bolsters our partnership with countries that share this common concern, which is important in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Oman, as well as in the Eastern Mediterranean.
With the passage of a new budget, it is important that Israel continue to focus on fostering stability in the face of the Iranian threat. While we may have internal disputes, we also must show the region that any domestic disputes are not an opening for Iran or its proxies to threaten us. Adversaries such as Hezbollah appear to understand that they misjudged us in the past when weighing attacks.
We must remain vigilant and continue to monitor the octopus-like threats that Iran seeks to leverage against us. The important messages from our senior defense officials this week illustrate how seriously they are taking the Iranian issue – and how hard they are working to enable us to go about our lives in peace.