Is Iran 10 weeks from breakout to a nuclear weapon and will Israel „act“?

Is Iran 10 weeks from breakout to a nuclear weapon and will Israel „act“?

The constellation in the Middle East, especially between Israel and Iran is getting tense. After the Gaza war, Iran got as new leader hardliner Raisi with the lowest particication in Iranian elections, while Hisbollah fired some rockets from Lebanon which were intercepted by the Iron Dome while Israel hired some Druze militas to stop Hisbollah´s misslie transports and Iran also started drone attacks against Israeli ships. Iran also pushes its nuclear enrichment program that the IAEA speaks of 60 % uranium  enrichment in Iran, while Israel demands from the UNO to deploy troops in Lebanon, thinks about a own aid program for the instable Lebanon, warns Iran from further aggressions and wants to bring this to the UNSC and pressures the Biden administration to readjust a new Iran deal with Israel´s demands. However, it has hard to imagine how such a deal could materialize as the positions of the USA and Israel become more antagonistic to the Iranian demands. While Israel tried to contain the Iranian program by cyber and sabotage attacks against its nuclear facilities and assassiniations of some scientific heads of the nuclear program, Iran now openly threatens to go nuclear. Netanjahu some years ago had a performance before the UNO where he claimed that the Iranian nuclear program even under the nuclear deal was already at the threshold of 90% and that Israel couldn´t wait any longer. However this had no real effect and impress the international community and Israel and the USA didn´t launch a military strike against Iran´s nuclear facilities.Now the new Israeli government claims that the Iranian nuclear program is only 10 weeks from its breaktrough to nuclear weapons and that Israel has to act:

“Gantz: Iran is 10 weeks from breakout to a nuclear weapon

„Israel had warned the US that Iran would use a break in JCPOA talks to advance its nuclear program.“

By Lahav Harkov, Tovah Lazaroff

August  5, 2021 22:24

Tehran will be able to break out to a nuclear weapon within 10 weeks, Defense Minister Benny Gantz told diplomats from UN Security Council member states on Wednesday as tensions ratcheted up between Iran and the international community over its maritime attacks.

“Iran has violated all of the guidelines set in the JCPOA [nuclear agreement] and is only around 10 weeks away from acquiring weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon,” Gantz warned.

“Therefore,” he added, “it is time to act. The world must apply economic sanctions and take operative action against the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps,” which has targeted shipping vessels.

In recent weeks, top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Gantz have expressed alarm to the US and others that Iran is taking advantage of a long pause in negotiations to return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to dramatically advance its nuclear program.

The talks have been on hold since June, and the regime in Tehran says they will not restart at least until after its new president, Ebrahim Raisi, forms a new government later this month.

Gantz’s remarks were made in a presentation with Lapid to diplomats from UN Security Council member states on Wednesday, as part of a push by Israel for the UNSC to sanction Iran for its maritime attacks, including on the Mercer Street ship, which is managed by an Israeli company, and the Asphalt Princess in the Gulf in the past week.

These attacks are not just on Israel, but are on the world, and therefore the world must react in a united way to ensure Iran takes responsibility for its aggression, was the senior ministers’ message. However, they told the ambassadors that Israel would retain its freedom to act against Iran in response to any attacks or threats on its citizens.

Security Council members with representation in Israel are the US, UK, France, Russia, China, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway and Vietnam. Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines do not have an embassy in Israel, and the Jewish state does not have diplomatic relations with Niger and Tunisia. In January, the situation in the UNSC will be more favorable to Israel, as all members that do not have diplomatic ties with Jerusalem will leave and be replaced with countries that do.

Israel presented intelligence at the beginning of the week to the US, as well as the UK and Romania, a citizen of each having been killed in the drone attack on Friday. The three countries expressed confidence that Iran was behind the bombing of Mercer Street and said they would coordinate a response.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that his country was working with Great Britain to convene a UNSC meeting on the matter.

The US and Great Britain are among five of the 15 UNSC members with veto power, along with France, Russia and China. Any UNSC action against Iran would need the support of Russia and China, which have often opposed such steps in the past.

Price said that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was working closely with Britain, Romania and other allies about “diplomatic next steps” to ensure maritime security and freedom of navigation.

Blinken also spoke with British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab about such efforts.

Raab tweeted after that the conversation that they had spoken about the “need for Iran to stop its destabilizing behavior.” He added, “We continue to work together to protect international peace & security,” he added.

Ambassador to the US and the UN Gilad Erdan highlighted the IRGC’s development of drone technology in a letter to the council on Tuesday.

“The Security Council must take all necessary measures to hold the Iranian regime fully accountable for its repeated and unrestrained gross violations of international law,” Erdan wrote.

He spoke out after Israel and the US charged that Iran is behind the drone attack Friday against the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned petroleum-product tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime Ltd. The Romanian captain and a British crew member were killed.

Britain, Romania and Liberia also wrote letters to the UNSC stating that it was “highly likely” that Iran used one or more drones to attack the ship as it was off the coast of Oman.

“This attack disrupted and posed a risk to the safety and security of international shipping and was a clear violation of international law,” the countries stated.

“This act must be condemned by the international community,” they added.

“Israel is ready to strike Iran to stop its aggression, nuclear program – Gantz

„When a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative in Gaza fires at Israel, he does it with the support of Iran. We know this,“ said Gantz.

By Anna Ahronheim, Tovah Lazaroff

August 6, 2021 00:11

Israel is ready to strike Iran, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Thursday, as tensions between the two countries continue to mount following a deadly drone attack eight days ago against a civilian commercial ship in the Persian Gulf.

Speaking to Ynet, Gantz was asked by Attila Somfalvi if Jerusalem was ready to strike Tehran, to which he answered yes, saying that the Islamic Republic was a threat to the country, Middle East and the entire world.

Israel considers Iran’s nuclear program as the No. 1 concern, and although Tehran has always denied seeking nuclear weapons, it is known that they are continuing to develop the capabilities to produce a nuclear weapons arsenal, as well as ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

“Iran is an international and regional problem,” Gantz said. “The world witnessed one example on Friday,” the deadly attack against the Mercer Street tanker, which was carried out by a suicide drone. “This could happen to anyone.”

Gantz said that new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who took over from moderate Hassan Rouhani on Thursday, could lead Iran to even more extreme regional and security policies.

“I’m telling the world, pay attention,” said the defense minister. “It’s coming.”

In response to Gantz’s comment on striking Iran, the United Nations called on all parties to de-escalate the situation.

“What is important is for all of the parties who are involved to avoid any escalatory action or rhetoric that could make the tense situation worse,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesmen for UN Sec.-Gen. Antonio Guterres, in New York on Thursday.

Diplomatic action, however, has been stymied.

Israel wants the 15-member UNSC to hold a meeting on what it has referred to as Iranian maritime “terrorism,” and to condemn such attacks on intentional trade.

At issue in particular is the July 29 drone attack on the Mercer Street ship, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned petroleum product tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime. Two crewmen, a British and Romanian national, were killed in the attack.

The United States and United Kingdom, which believe that Iran was behind the drone attack, also want to see the UNSC convene.

Britain plans to raise the issue of Iranian maritime attacks at Friday’s closed door UNSC meeting. Other member states are also expected to speak out.

At present, no action can be taken because of expected opposition from Russia and China.

“There’s a lot of conflicting information,” deputy Russian UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy told reporters on Wednesday. “A ‘highly likely’ analysis, which we totally reject. We need to establish facts … we don’t need to rush to any conclusions or actions without having proof of what has happened.”

As an example of the complex relationship many in the international community have with Iran, Dujarric welcomed the entry into office of Iran’s hard-line new president, Ebrahim Raisi, whose swearing-in ceremony was held earlier in the day.

“We look forward to working with the new president of Iran on a host of issues that are of interest to the UN and Iran,” Dujarric said.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN and the US Gilad Erdan tweeted about Raisi, calling him “the Butcher of Tehran” who was responsible for the “executions of as many as 30k political prisoners in 1988 – & he is PROUD of it. This man with blood on his hands will only create more violence & instability.”

Erdan also tweeted a photo from the ceremony of a European Union official sitting together with Hamas and Hezbollah officials.

„Hezbollah, Hamas & the EU in one photo at the inauguration of the Butcher of Tehran,“ Erdan stated. „How can they preach about human rights while sitting with representatives of terrorist orgs days after Iran’s murderous attack on a civilian ship & right before the UNSC discusses the issue?,“ he tweeted.

Gantz also warned that Israel has to continue to develop its abilities to cope with multiple fronts “for this is the future. Iran seeks to pose a multi-front challenge to Israel, and as such is building up its forces in Lebanon and Gaza, deploying militias in Syria and Iraq, and maintaining its supporters in Yemen. Iran is a global and regional problem and an Israeli challenge.”

Israel is dealing with the Iranian threat in an active manner against its proxies in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza.

“At the end of the day when a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative in Gaza fires on Israel, he does that with the support of Iran,” said the defense minister. “We know this and are dealing with that on a number of levels, in various means, and in several different places,” he said, adding that Israel will continue to act.

Speaking to a group of diplomats on Wednesday from states in the UN Security Council, Gantz warned that Iran had “violated all JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] guidelines, and is only around 10 weeks from acquiring weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon.

“Now is the time for deeds – words are not enough,” he warned. “It is time for diplomatic, economic, and even military deeds – otherwise the attacks will continue.

In the aftermath of the border violence, United Nations Item Force Lebanon’s Head of Mission and Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Stefano Del Col chaired a tripartite meeting with senior officers from the Lebanese Armed Forces and the IDF at a UN position in Ras Al Naqoura. 

Del Col called on Lebanon and Israel “to act with urgency” to de-escalate tensions and prevent breaches of the cessation of hostilities, the UNIFIL office reported.

He urged the two countries to “use this tripartite forum“ to „explore ways to reinforce security and stability along the Blue Line.”

“In this period of regional volatility, more than ever, UNIFIL’s liaison and coordination role must be respected by all sides,” he said. “In the most imperfect times, this mechanism has served you well and now is the time to recommit to it, not allow the spoilers to have the better of us.”

UNIFIL patrols the Israeli-Lebanese border and is charged with monitoring adherence to the cease fire that ended the Second Lebanon War, which was codified under UNSC Resolution 1701.

The meeting focused on such violations, the UNIFIL office stated, noting that such meetings are held regularly.

This one also comes in advance of the anticipated UNSC meeting at a the end of August for the annual renewal of annual of UNIFIL’s mandate. Israel has pushed the UNSC to better empower UNIFIL to monitor violations, such as the Hezbollah construction of attack tunnels.

However the million dollar question is:Can Israel do this without US support, politically and militarily. Has Israel the capacity to make a strike against Iran and would the US support this and would it risk an international condemnation? Could such a strike produce counterstrikes and a new Iran war? Could Russia and China live with a nuclear Iran or even the USA, especially if the USA and Israel might be preoccupied with a nuclear Iran in the Middle East and focus their attention away from the Asian pivot and China and Europe and Russia? The USA and Israel are already asking themselves if Putin cancels the former Putin- Netanjahu gentlemen agreement which granted Israel and the USA airstrikes against Iranian militas in Syria and Iraq, while China signed a 25 year cooperation treaty with Iran. Would Russia and China risk US/Israeli showdown with Iran and a escalation in the Greater Middle East, as it also could damage its own aspirations, especially China´s Belt and Road Initiative. Do they want achieve with their support of Iran and Russian air defense like the S 300 and S 400 and Silkworms and more modern missiles and drones that Israel and the USA give in and accept a new order for the Greater Middle East according to their concept of a multipolar world, even if this would mean a nuclear Iran and a escalation of conflicts in this region backed by a Iranian deterrence against the USA and Israel and its 200 nuclear weapons? And can Biden accept a nuclear Iran or a new Iran deal under Iranian conditions? And even if the Israelis launched a military strike: What would be the consequences?

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