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Israel could strike first as tensions with Iran flare… Iran could target Israel to escalate tensions with US – report

“Israel could strike itself… … Israel could replace the US President with one that will!” 😀

Defense officials said to think lack of US military response could embolden Iran

IDF military advocate-general stresses variety of Iran threats facing Israel

Afek mentioned Iran as a threat in the contexts of Hezbollah-Lebanon, Syria, Hamas and the launching of an Iranian drone into Israeli territory.

Israel could strike first as tensions with Iran flare

June 21, 2019 9.03am AEST

†††Doreen Horschig PhD Candidate in Security Studies, University of Central Florida

Disclosure statement

Doreen Horschig receives funding from the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa for a different research project that is not connected to the article on Israeli aggression.

Iran shot down a U.S. drone on June 19, further escalating tensions between Iran and its adversaries.

Relations with Iran have been worsening for months. In early May, one year after the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal negotiated in 2015 between Iran, the U.S., the European Union and five other countries, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that his country may also withdraw from the agreement, which limits its ability to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting sanctions.

In June, Rouhani announced that Iran will restart uranium enrichment, which could put the country on track to develop a nuclear weapon within a year. Rouhani’s government insists its uranium will go to civilian nuclear power, not weapons.

As a “deterrent” to Iran, the United States is sending an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East.

The U.S. is not the only country considering a military response in Iran.

Israel will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on June 17. Netanyahu also said Iran must be punished for violating the nuclear agreement.

Israel, which has faced threats to its national security since its founding as a Jewish homeland in the Middle East in 1948, is known to take aggressive, preventive action to protect itself – including by launching preemptive strikes on neighboring nations it perceives as threatening.

If international relations with Iran grow more volatile, Israel could take dramatic, unilateral action against its neighbor and longtime adversary.

How the Begin Doctrine justifies preemptive strikes

I’m an international security scholar who studies Israel’s proactive use of its military to prevent nuclear buildup in the Middle East.

Israel has a counterproliferation policy, called the Begin Doctrine, which allows it to wage preventive strikes against enemies with weapons of mass destruction programs. Using the Begin Doctrine as a justification for preemptive strikes, the Israeli government has for decades quietly decimated nuclear and chemical facilities across the Middle East.

When President Saddam Hussein’s potential nuclear military ambitions raised concerns in 1981, the Israeli government destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor in a surprise attack called Operation Opera.

“On no account shall we permit an enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction against the people of Israel,” a government release stated at the time. “We shall defend the citizens of Israel in good time and with all the means at our disposal.”

In 2007, Israel responded to Syria’s failure to report its uranium processing by striking a nuclear reactor in the Deir ez-Zor region. The United States, which was reportedly informed ahead of the attack, made no effort to stop Israel.

Israel has also been accused of sponsoring the assassinations of at least four Iranian nuclear scientists since 2010. The incidents have never been fully investigated, and Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the targeted killings.

Israel has also deterred nuclear proliferation in the Mideast using less lethal, more high tech strategies.

In 2008 and 2009, Israel used computer malware called Stuxnet to disrupt Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. The program infected the software that controlled centrifuge speed at the Natanz nuclear plant, alternately speeding up and slowing down the machines that produce enriched uranium to cripple production of the material. The Obama administration secretly supported the cyberattacks.

Though the United States, United Nations and other world powers officially condemned some of these unprovoked Israeli military aggression, other preemptive Israeli attacks have been met with silence from the international community.

The international community may even appreciate Israel’s role as a nuclear nonproliferation watchdog in the Middle East, my research suggests. Israel has never been punished for attacking its neighbors’ weapons programs.

Decades after Israel’s 1981 attack on Iraq’s nuclear plant, President Bill Clinton called it “a really good thing.”

“It kept Saddam Hussein from developing nuclear power,” he said at the 2005 Davos World Economic Forum.

“But it’s not clear to me they have that option in Iran,” he added.

Israel vs. Iran

That was 14 years ago. In 2005, Iran was just beginning its nuclear buildup.

Today, Israel’s government seems strong in its belief that it has the option to strike Iran.

Iran’s Islamic fundamentalist government is openly hostile to Israel. Citing fears that Iran would use nuclear weapons against Israel, Netanyahu has warned, “Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons would be infinitely more costly than any scenario you can imagine to stop it.”

He told Iran and other adversaries not to “test” Israel.

If the nuclear deal ruptures further and Iran does restarting uranium enrichment, Israel might launch targeted airstrikes against it.

Iran and Israel are longtime adversaries. Here, Iranians burn the flag of Israel at a march on ‘Jerusalem Day,’ May 31, 2019. Tasnim News Agency via Reuters

Risks of an Israeli strike

History suggests other countries are unlikely to actively deter Israeli military aggression in the guise of nuclear nonproliferation.

The Trump administration has expressed anti-Iranian sentiment and is a staunch backer of Netanyahu’s government.

And while European powers will recognize preemptive Israeli strikes on nuclear facilities as a violation of international law and of the sovereignty of Israel’s neighbors, they also see Iran’s nuclear program as a grave global security concern.

A nuclear Iran could escalate ongoing Middle East conflicts into nuclear exchanges, and, as some commentators say, spur other regional powers like Saudi Arabia and Egypt to develop nuclear weapons themselves.

Of course, potential Israeli attacks on Iran present their own serious risks. Because most of Iran’s reactors are in full operations, air strikes may mean cutting off the power supply to Iranian citizens and could release large amounts of radioactive contaminants into the air.

Iran, a militarily well-equipped country, would surely retaliate against any Israeli attacks. That, too, would trigger a conflict that would spiral throughout the Middle East.

Of course, Israel faced similar dangers when it went after the weapons programs of Syria, Iraq and other neighbors.

If history is any guide, Israel may strike Iran while the world quietly watches.

Iran could target Israel to escalate tensions with US – report

Israeli, Western intelligence officials said to warn that Tehran is frustrated at failure to force Washington to negotiation table

By TOI staff and Agencies Today, 10:19 am

Hezbollah fighters hold flags, as they attend the memorial of slain leader Sheik Abbas al-Mousawi, killed by an Israeli airstrike in 1992, in Tefahta village, south Lebanon, February 13, 2016. (Mohammed Zaatari/AP)

Hezbollah fighters hold flags, as they attend the memorial of slain leader Sheik Abbas al-Mousawi, killed by an Israeli airstrike in 1992, in Tefahta village, south Lebanon, February 13, 2016. (Mohammed Zaatari/AP)

There is growing concern among Israeli and Western intelligence officials that Iran could initiate a provocation against Israel to escalate its feud with the United States and force Washington to the negotiation table, according to a report Wednesday.

Intelligence analyses have pointed to Tehran being disappointed by the fact that it hasn’t succeeded so far in forcing the US to rethink the crippling sanctions it reimposed on it last year, when it withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, the Haaretz daily reported.

After threats and steps the Islamic Republic has taken so far to escalate tensions in the region, it could drag Israel into the crisis through one of its proxy organizations in Syria or Lebanon — including the Hezbollah terror group — the officials said.

The report pointed to the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was convening his security cabinet twice this week — a rarity even for normal times. During his transitional government since the April elections and leading up to the September vote, which he called after he failed to form a coalition, the security cabinet has barely met at all for discussions.

The second cabinet meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

Additionally, the Israel Defense Forces is holding two large-scale drills this week in the north, though both were scheduled ahead of time as part of the annual training plan.

In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a ceremony at Imam Khomeini International Airport some 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, June 18, 2019. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated since US President Donald Trump last year quit the multi-nation nuclear deal and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran.

Iran on Monday announced that it will surpass the uranium stockpile limit set by the nuclear deal within 10 days, raising pressure on Europeans trying to save the accord.

Hours later, the United States said it had approved the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan — who announced he would be stepping down — said the troops were being sent “for defensive purposes” as the US has blamed Iran for last week’s attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Iran denies responsibility for that attack, as well as for separate tanker vandalism in the region last month it has also been blamed for.

But those developments have failed to tone down American rhetoric, cause Europeans and companies to increase trade to bypass the sanctions, or significantly raise oil prices.

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