When It Comes to Iran, Israel Risks Repeating the Mistakes of 1973 and 2023 https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/israel-zionism/2024/05/when-it-comes-to-iran-israel-risks-repeating-the-mistakes-of-1973-and-2023/

May 3, 2024 | Jonathan Schachter
About the author: Jonathan Schachter is a senior fellow with Hudson Institute’s Center for Peace and Security in the Middle East. He specializes in international security, strategy and diplomacy.

If Iran succeeds in obtaining nuclear weapons, the war in Gaza, let alone the protests on college campuses, will seem like a minor complication. Jonathan Schachter fears that this danger could be much more imminent than decisionmakers in Jerusalem and Washington believe. In his view, Israel seems to be repeating the mistake that allowed it to be taken by surprise on Simchat Torah of 2023 and Yom Kippur of 1973: putting too much faith in an intelligence concept that could be wrong.

Israel and the United States apparently believe that despite Iran’s well-documented progress in developing capabilities necessary for producing and delivering nuclear weapons, as well as its extensive and ongoing record of violating its international nuclear obligations, there is no acute crisis because building a bomb would take time, would be observable, and could be stopped by force. Taken together, these assumptions and their moderating impact on Israeli and American policy form a new Iran concept reminiscent of its 1973 namesake and of the systemic failures that preceded the October 7 massacre.

Meanwhile, most of the restrictions put in place by the 2015 nuclear deal will expire by the end of next year, rendering the question of Iran’s adherence moot. And the forces that could be taking action aren’t:

The European Union regularly issues boilerplate press releases asserting its members’ “grave concern.” American decisionmakers and spokespeople have created the unmistakable impression that their reservations about the use of force are stronger than their commitment to use force to prevent an Iranian atomic bomb. At the same time, the U.S. refuses to enforce its own sanctions comprehensively: Iranian oil exports (especially to China) and foreign-currency reserves have ballooned since January 2021, when the Biden administration took office.

Israel’s response has also been sluggish and ambiguous. Despite its oft-stated policy of never allowing a nuclear Iran, Israel’s words and deeds have sent mixed messages to allies and adversaries—perhaps inadvertently reinforcing the prevailing sense in Washington and elsewhere that Iran’s nuclear efforts do not present an exigent crisis.

Read more on Hudson Institute: https://www.hudson.org/arms-control-nonproliferation/nuclear-iran-concept-time-short-israel-america-jonathan-schachter