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Monday, October 2, 2017
E. Inbar: Use of Force: The Only Way to Stop Iran

Use of Force: The Only Way to Stop Iran

The author is president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies
(JISS), Israelís new conservative security think tank.

Western hopes that Iran will moderate and ďengageĒ with the international
community following the faulty 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA) have been
gradually replaced with apprehension. More voices in the international
community are joining Israel in expressing growing concern about Iranís

While Iran seems to be abide by the JCPOA, it resists expanding the scope of
inspections, continues its nuclear research and development (for example
upgrading centrifuges) and continues to make progress on its long-range
missile program. Recently it conducted a test of a missile designed to carry
nuclear warheads.

Moreover, Iranís involvement in the region attests to its hegemonic plans,
defying the notion, propagated by its propagandists, that it is a status quo
power acting defensively. Rather, Iran is following its Persian imperial
instincts that are reinforced by Muslim jihadist impulses. It already
controls four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Sanaa; its Shiíite
militias and proxies are fighting in Iraq, Syria and Yemen and engaging in
ethnic cleansing; and it is on the verge of solidifying the Shiíite corridor
from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. Israel tries to capitalize on
the new widespread global apprehension about Iran and a new American
president who is not committed to the JCPOA to bring about the cancellation
of the 2015 nuclear accord or its renegotiation, and the reinstating of the
sanctions regime. Yet, these goals are difficult to attain and not useful in
preventing a nuclear Iran.

The international community, including the US, has little appetite to
confront Iran. The belligerent tone of President Donald Trump might be
pleasant to Israeli ears, but we should not forget that he has not yet
dismantled the North Korean nuclear arsenal. Understanding very well the
Western reluctance to take military action, Iran is emulating the North
Korean scenario.

Many states, Germany for example, were eager to renew business relations
with Iran after the removal of the sanctions regime and to turn a blind eye
to Iranian purchases of dual-use equipment.

The world seems to prefer to wait until the agreement expires in 10 years or
so without worrying about what will happen after. Iran signed the deal to
gain legitimacy for its nuclear program without giving up the plan to go
nuclear in the near future. Iran, with its thousands of years of history, is
patient, seeing the agreement as only a short delay on the road to achieving
its ambitions.

Israel cannot rely on the international community to stop Iranís

Unilateral cancellation of the nuclear agreement will only energize the
Iranian nuclear program. Even if attempts to convince Iran to renegotiate
the deal are successful, the Iranian talent for bargaining will prolong the
negotiations for years, gaining it additional time to enhance its nuclear

Similarly, putting in place a tough economic sanctions regime requires years
of diplomatic struggle. Neither Russia nor China have a great interest in
helping the US neutralize the trouble potential of an anti-American Iran.
Moreover, the effectiveness of economic sanctions is limited. Past sanctions
were useful in bringing Iran back to the negotiating table, but not in
changing its policy.

The claim that a tougher deal could have been achieved in 2015 and therefore
renegotiations could elicit a better one for the West is not credible. The
JCPOA, with its loopholes, was the only agreement the Iranians were ready to
sign when it became clear that the US under president Barack Obama would
anyway be unwilling to use the military option.Despite the anti-Iranian
rhetoric, the US under President Donald Trump seems to lack the strategic
acumen needed to stop Iran from attaining regional hegemony. As a matter of
fact, its Middle Eastern policies suit Iran.

Trump continued the obsession with Islamic State (an anti-Iranian force) and
is going along with the Russian and Iranian plans in Syria. The US prefers
the integrity of Iraq, an Iranian satellite, rather than supporting a
Kurdish state that Iran opposes. The US did not side clearly with Saudi
Arabia in isolating a Qatar that courts Iran. A nuclear Iran will be even
more difficult to restrain.

Nothing in the world can convince Iran to give up the nuclear dream. Only
the use of force can stop Iran from fulfilling its ambitions. Israel is on
its own in this. Nobody will deal with an Iran that is going nuclear.
Therefore, Israel must prepare its military for a strike against the main
components of Iranís nuclear infrastructure. This will not be easily
achieved, but with determination and creativity it is feasible.

A successful attack on Iranís nuclear infrastructure would change the
regional power equation and reverse Iranian advances. Most states would be
happy for Israel to do the dirty work, and judging from past Israeli strikes
on the Iraqi and Syrian reactors, would hardly create any difficulties for
Israel on this account.

It is true that Iran has ways to retaliate and exact costs from Israel.
However, these would be easier to bear than the cost of allowing Iran to
have nuclear weapons.
The author is president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies
(JISS), Israelís new conservative security think tank. He is professor
emeritus at Bar-Ilan University and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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