Israel Still Has More to Fear from Iranian Nuclear Weapons Than from Hizballah

June 12 2019

The Islamic Republic’s recent attempts to sabotage Saudi and Emirati oil tankers and pipelines suggest that the mullahs have shifted to a more active response to renewed American sanctions. Could Tehran’s next step be to order Hizballah, or its other proxies, to attack Israel? Unlikely, argue Amos Yadlin and Ari Heistein:

The sabotage of oil infrastructure caused no loss of life, and the Saudi pipeline was quickly brought back online. Notably, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia did not respond militarily. However, an extraordinary cross-border attack against Israel by one of Iran’s clients—exceeding the current sporadic but routine exchanges in terms of threat or consequences—runs a high risk of eliciting the powerful military response Iran seeks to avoid. This certainly proved true [at the beginning of this month], when two rockets fired from Syria triggered Israeli airstrikes that caused significant damage to Iranian and Hizballah forces. . . .

The direct and indirect threats along Israel’s border are unlikely to disappear anytime soon, but it is probable that Iran’s precarious geopolitical and economic situation will reduce the appetite for escalation with Israel for the foreseeable future. The Iranian nuclear issue, by contrast, may reemerge and replace the Iranian conventional threat as the foremost priority for Israel’s security establishment. . . .

Israel would be wise to prepare for three more problematic nuclear scenarios. . . . If the 2015 nuclear deal continues to limp along, Israel should devise a method for coping with the agreement’s sunset clauses over the next decade that could leave Iran with a full-scale nuclear program, accompanied by a dangerously short breakout time, by 2030. Preparing for this will require a great deal of investment in diplomatic, intelligence collection, and force-building efforts that can be utilized for an international push, bolstered by an effective military option, to prevent Iran’s nuclearization, perhaps by seeking to extend the sunset clauses.

This would be no simple task even with the current level of support from the U.S. administration. It will be considerably more complex should one of Donald Trump’s opponents win the presidency next year and choose to rejoin the deal.

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Read more at War on the Rocks

More about: Hizballah, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Don’t Expect the Jerusalem Summit to Drive a Wedge between Russia and Iran

June 14 2019

Later this month, an unprecedented meeting will take place in Jerusalem among the top national-security officials of the U.S., Israel, and Russia to discuss the situation in Syria. Moscow is likely to seek financial aid for the reconstruction of the war-ravaged country, or at the very least an easing of sanctions on Bashar al-Assad. Washington and Jerusalem are likely to pressure the Russian government to reduce the presence of Iranian forces and Iran-backed militias in Syria, or at the very least to keep them away from the Israeli border. But to Anna Borshchevskaya, any promises made by Vladimir Putin’s representatives are not to be trusted:

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war