With no military threat, Iran has no incentive to stop its nuclear progress. Iran might well conclude that the sanctions could disappear in the course of endless rounds of diplomacy. No one in Israel seeks war, but a central tenet of its own defense doctrine is that Israel cannot depend on any external power to deal with existential security threats.
The coming weeks probably represent the last opportunity for Iran and the international community to reach an enforceable deal that will dismantle Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, before Israel concludes that time has run out, that Iran has gotten too close to creating its first atomic bombs, and that the time for a military strike has arrived.
Despite Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s well-planned and deceptive charm offensive at the United Nations last week, so far not a single uranium-enriching centrifuge has stopped spinning in the underground nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom. The heavy water plutonium facility at Arak is moving forward, and Iran has already amassed enough low-enriched uranium for the production of seven to nine atomic bombs.
This notice is important as deterrence against Iran has waned significantly since August, when President Barack Obama hesitantly climbed down from his commitment to carry out a military strike on Iran’s ally, the Syrian regime, over its use of chemical weapons to massacre civilians.
A diminished threat of military force leaves diplomatic efforts with Iran almost no chance of success: it leaves Iran with virtually no incentive to stop its nuclear progress, despite the painful economic sanctions it faces.
Many of America’s allies in the Middle East are very concerned about the lack of deterrence; and Netanyahu, keen to ensure that he has given talks with Iran all possible opportunities before taking matters into his own hands, has placed the military threat firmly back on the table, lest Iran forget that even if the U.S. will not act militarily any time soon, Israel most certainly will if it must.
The second purpose of Netanyahu’s speech was to put the international community on notice regarding the urgency of the situation, and to send the message that even if many in the West have fallen for Iran’s “campaign of smiles,” Israel has not, and if Israeli concerns are neglected, action will be taken.
Should the international community continue to allow Iran to buy more time for its nuclear program, as it has done for more than a decade, after Netanyahu’s warning, it will not be able to respond with surprise when Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear sites.
Full article: Israel’s Final Warning on Iran (Gatestone Institute)