26.10.2021 Author: Viktor Mikhin

Middle East: Both the US and Israel Pose a Military Threat to the Region


Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations, warned in a letter to the UN Security Council about Israel’s ever-growing threats against Iran, reiterating that these threats must be condemned as violations of international law. Takht-Ravanchi warned against any “miscalculation” or “military adventurism” on the part of the Israeli regime against the Islamic Republic, including its nuclear program, reiterating that these threats must be denounced as a violation of international law. He also warned that the frequency and severity of Tel Aviv’s provocative and adventurous threats have steadily increased in recent months and have reached alarming levels. Such flagrant and systematic threats against a founding member of the United Nations arguably constitute a flagrant violation of international law, in particular Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter.

Indeed, the aggressiveness of the statements of Tel Aviv officials is off the charts lately, and there are many examples of this. Recent remarks by Israeli military chief Aviv Kochavi quietly state that the regime is routinely preparing for an attack on Iran, vividly demonstrating the provocative activities of the Israelis. Kochavi stated that “operations to destroy Iranian capabilities will continue, in any arena and at any time.” The fact that Tel Aviv continues to try to “destroy Iran’s capabilities” proves beyond any doubt that it is responsible for the terrorist attacks on Iran’s peaceful nuclear program and the numerous murders of Iranian scientists.

The reason for it is quite simple: the aggressive Washington is looming behind the Israelis. And while the Israeli leadership says at every turn that it will by all means prevent the development of Iranian nuclear weapons, the “crimson dream” of the American leadership is to force Tehran, even through blackmail, to return to the nuclear deal that Washington itself withdrew from under Trump. In this regard, the US and Israel have formidably stated that they are exploring a “Plan B” to intimidate Iran if the latter does not return “in good faith to negotiations to save the languishing landmark 2015 nuclear deal.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid stressed in one voice that discussions have begun between their two countries on “other options” if Iran rejects their ultimatum to return to compliance with the agreement. They did not specify what those options might be, but a wide range of non-diplomatic options could be considered, from tougher sanctions to covert or military action that would bring the entire Middle East to the brink of war.

These remarks were a rare acknowledgement by the US of where it stands in the event of failed diplomacy with Iran. Israel has never been a party to the nuclear deal, which former President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018, and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a vocal opponent of the agreement made by the Obama administration. Blinken and Lapid made these threats at a joint State Department press conference with the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, at which all three agreed to try to expand the so-called “Abraham Accords,” Trump-era agreements that normalized relations between Israel, the UAE and several other Arab states.

Relevant comments from Washington surfaced when Iran hinted that it was ready to return to indirect talks with the US in Vienna, but did not commit to a date.  Blinken frantically repeated that the window for Iran to return to the agreement was closing, but again refused to give a date “when it would be too late.”  The US secretary of state went on to reiterate that Washington would consider all options to resolve the problem posed by Iran. In doing so, he accused Tehran of allegedly refusing to participate in the “diplomacy” into which the US expects to drive the Iranians. According to a report from the White House, National Security Adviser Sullivan also reiterated the Biden administration’s commitment that Iran will never obtain nuclear weapons.  “Officials agreed that the United States and Israel will continue to consult closely on Iran and other critical issues affecting the security and stability of the region,” it reads. In commenting on all these statements, we can safely state that there is a “new UN” emerging, now American-Israeli, already deciding how the whole world should live.

Lapid, who has only recently taken over as foreign minister and is not yet used to weighing his words, was harsher, reiterating Israel’s warnings that it would act, using military force if necessary, to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.   However, the minister somehow forgot to say that it was Israel, in violation of all international laws with the connivance of the US, illegally became the owner of both nuclear weapons and their means of delivery. It was Israel that did not sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, thereby bringing the entire Middle East region to the brink of extreme danger.  When asked why the IAEA was so focused on Iran’s nuclear program and not Israel’s, Rafael Grossi, the international organization’s director general, calmly replied: “Our relationship with Israel is based on the fact that it is not a party to the NPT.” In other words, if Iran withdraws from the NPT, then the aggressive nuclear inspections by the IAEA would stop immediately, and Iran would acquire nuclear weapons, as Israel once did. Simple to the point of idiocy.

Incidentally, contrary to warnings that Iran could obtain nuclear weapons within months, the former head of the Mossad said that the Islamic Republic was years away from a nuclear capability because other countries would not allow them to build one.  “I think that Iran, to this day, is not even close to acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Yossi Cohen told the Jerusalem Post at a diplomatic conference. “This is due to longstanding efforts by some forces in the world,” he explained. Iran is also in a relatively weaker position because “foreign support for what Iran is doing is less than in the past,” Cohen added.  These comments contradicted the warnings of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who, contrary to the obvious facts, warned back in August that Iran was “only two months away” from developing the materials needed to build a nuclear capability, and military experts warned that it would take several more months to “assemble them into a nuclear threat.”  IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi explained at the time: “The progress of the Iranian nuclear program has led the IDF to accelerate its operational plans and the recently approved defense budget is earmarked for that.” The total defense budget in July of 58 billion shekels ($18 billion) for the coming year included 2 billion shekels ($620 million) for operations against Iran.

Many politicians in the region and beyond believe that, given the Israeli regime’s sinister history of destabilizing the region and its covert operations against Iran’s nuclear program, it is necessary to confront Tel Aviv’s aggressive actions, put it within the framework of international law, and thereby end all its threats and subversive behavior. Arab political analysts believe that it is the Israeli regime and its suzerain, the US, that are the main obstacle to a nuclear-free Middle East.

Iran’s representative to the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, Heidar Ali Baluji, also said at a session on “Nuclear Weapons, Other WMD, Outer Space, and Conventional Weapons” that Tehran “reiterates its call to the international community to force Israel to dismantle its nuclear arsenal, join the NPT immediately as a non-nuclear weapon party without any preconditions and place all its nuclear facilities under full-scope IAEA safeguards.” He described the Islamic Republic as one of the countries “with the highest rate of adherence to international instruments prohibiting weapons of mass destruction (WMD)”.

It is clear that achieving global nuclear disarmament remains one of the most long-term goals of the United Nations. Today, international security is threatened by the presence of nearly 14,000 nuclear weapons with well-funded long-term plans to not only modernize but also strengthen the arsenals of nuclear-weapon states and, consequently, a nuclear arms race. Tehran believes that the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and its unwillingness to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 nuclear agreement signed between Iran and the world’s major powers, has done great damage to international disarmament measures. Incidentally, chemical weapons remain a serious concern, with the US being the sole possessor, although many organizations have urged Washington to meet the 2012 deadline for destroying its stockpiles of such weapons.

Thus, the entire Middle East region is now frozen in anxious anticipation. On the one hand, there is the pressure and constant threats, up to and including military action, from the US and Israel against Iran, which are increasing day by day. On the other, Tehran, which believes that it is the US, which unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear agreement, should show initiative, lift all sanctions against the Iranians and sit down at the negotiating table in Vienna. Clearly, it is up to Washington, which considers Israel its most reliable ally in the region, to cool the fervor of Israeli threats and restrain them from unwise actions that could bring not only the Middle East region, but the entire world, to the brink of military action.

Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” .

Please select digest to download: