By Prof. Eytan Gilboa, BESA Center—
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu recently warned that increasing Iranian provocations and the absence of a US response could lead to a dangerous military confrontation between Israel and Iran. This warning is perceived by some as mere fear-mongering in the wake of two non-conclusive elections. Neither of the two leading candidates for PM, Netanyahu or Benjamin Gantz, has been able to form a government. Opposition spokespersons and commentators suggest that Netanyahu’s warning is a manipulation designed to break the political deadlock and push for the establishment of a national unity government of the type he favors.
But the IDF’s Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, and Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, the Head of the IDF’s Operations Directorate, have issued similar warnings.
Military and strategic experts argue that an Iranian military attack on Israel is just a matter of time. American strategic weakness, as reflected in its failure to respond to a series of Iranian provocations in the Gulf, could provide an opportunity for an Iranian attack. The main purpose of such an attack would be to deter Israel from its relentless strikes on the military infrastructure Iran is attempting to build in Syria and more recently in Iraq.
Iran has attacked oil tankers and Saudi oil facilities and shot down an expensive American intelligence drone over international waters. It is building facilities to convert Hezbollah’s huge arsenal of rockets into more accurate and more deadly weapons. It is trying to add a third military front against Israel in Syria and Iraq (the other two are Lebanon and Gaza), and is using the terror organization Islamic Jihad in Gaza to attack Israeli towns and villages in order to sabotage the Egyptian effort to achieve calm there.
Iran is also systematically violating the 2015 nuclear agreement, which was signed by European powers as well as the US.
On November 6, 2019, Iran began to fuel over 1,044 centrifuges with uranium gas at the Fordow nuclear facility. The purpose is to enrich uranium at 20%. For peaceful purposes, uranium only needs to be enriched at 3-5%, and indeed the nuclear deal allows Iran to enrich only up to 3.67%. Any concentration beyond that level could indicate a plan to build nuclear weapons, which require 85-90% concentration. Once the 20% level is reached, enrichment can be boosted to 90% quite rapidly.
Iran also plans to increase its enriched uranium production tenfold at the Natanz nuclear facility. On November 4, it said it is developing advanced centrifuges that can enrich uranium faster. Continue Reading….