Time for Stopping the Islamic Republic’s Nuclear Program Is Running Out

In his address to the UN General Assembly two weeks ago, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett declared that “Iran’s nuclear-weapons program is at a critical point” and that “all red lines have been crossed.” This is no mere rhetoric, argues Joab Rosenberg; Tehran’s recent decision to enrich uranium to 60 percent and to begin work converting the substance into a metal bring it is perilously close to having a nuclear bomb. To understand what it might do next, Rosenberg turns to the nuclear program’s history:

Despite Iran’s ongoing denials, it is very clear that it was running a broad-ranging nuclear-weapons program in the 1990s and up until around 2004. . . . In 2003–2004, in a major shift, the leadership in Tehran changed the course of its nuclear program. It froze [much of the program at that point], while continuing to work on dual-use projects rather than on the direct development of nuclear weapons. [This] change of course . . . was driven by the impact of events of 9/11 and the U.S. war in Afghanistan and Iraq; it was meant to deflect Iran’s inclusion in the “axis of evil” by President Bush.

In 2021 Iran has seen the U.S. leave Afghanistan, and Washington may soon be withdrawing its forces from Iraq. . . . Little is left of the . . . once looming threat that led Tehran to wonder whether Iran may be next. . . . Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei can already judge that his major decisions—to allow enrichment to 60 percent and to start working on enriched uranium metal—did not lead to a firm response from the international community, other than empty declarations and statements.

It is still possible to pray that good diplomatic skills will bring Iran back into the 2015 nuclear deal, or a version thereof. But it is now just as probable that the Iranians are actually “breaking out,” . . . despite the fact it is a different “break out” than any of the experts had predicted: acquiring military-grade fissile material while still avowing that they do not seek a weapon. . . . The time for stopping Iran may be running out as we speak.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Iran nuclear program, Naftali Bennett, U.S. Foreign policy

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7