The Folly of Applying Cold-War Lessons to Nuclear Talks with Iran

Pursuing a changed relationship with the United States, Mikhail Gorbachev eventually made the major concession of allowing inspectors into Soviet nuclear facilities. Iran, Michael Mandelbaum writes, is quite a different case:

As the result of Gorbachev’s policies, the Soviet-American rivalry was ebbing. Because the Soviet government sought better relations with the United States, it cooperated with the inspectors. The Iranian government cannot be counted on to adopt a similar attitude: while it is seeking relief from internationally-imposed economic sanctions, unlike Gorbachev it does not want to improve its relationship to the United States. Unlike Gorbachev, it shows no sign of reconsidering, let alone discontinuing, the policies that have put it at odds with America.

During the cold war, American arms-control policy was linked to Soviet foreign policy. When that policy waxed aggressive, it became politically impossible to gain the necessary political support in the United States for an arms-control accord. . . . The Obama approach to the Iranian nuclear program has had, if anything, the opposite effect. As the negotiations have proceeded, the Iranian regime has expanded rather than pulled back from the initiatives that threaten the security of countries aligned with the United States. . . . Iran also continues to proclaim its intention to destroy Israel, a project that an Iranian nuclear arsenal would make horrifically feasible. By the terms of the agreement that have been revealed thus far, Iran will get relief from economic sanctions without having to modify any of these policies. . . .

Even if the talks do produce an accord that all parties sign, with the resulting removal of economic sanctions and with the theoretical option to re-impose them being almost certainly unworkable in practice, the mullahs will have no incentive other than the threat of bombardment to exercise nuclear restraint. . . . Asserting [as many do] that the United States should not stop the Iranian program by force because that will only buy time is like saying that medical care is pointless because everyone ultimately dies.

Read more at American Interest

More about: Iran nuclear program, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nuclear proliferation, Politics & Current Affairs, Soviet Union, U.S. Foreign policy

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security