Iran will likely soon carry out at least a symbolic enrichment of uranium to the 90% weaponized level, saidIDF Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva on Monday.
Speaking at the INSS conference on Iran, he said that the world will be tested soon like never before. To date, the Islamic Republic has never dared to cross the uranium enrichment weaponized threshold.
The Jerusalem Post reported last week that even if Iran crosses this threshold, top Israeli officials still believe it would take Tehran another two years to solve questions related to detonating and delivering a nuclear weapon.
He did not think that Iran would completely go for a nuclear weapon due to concerns about its survival from Israeli and Western reactions if it tried to do so.
Haliva seemed to express doubt about the West’s will on the Iran nuclear issue, noting that for four-and-a-half years since the US left the nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic has rushed forward with its military nuclear advancement.
THE NATANZ uranium enrichment facility, south of Tehran, 2005: According to foreign reports, Israel’s effort has yielded a decade of operational successes, including the sabotage of the Natanz facility last year. (credit: RAHEB HOMAVANDI/REUTERS)
Further, he said that Iran recently weighed initiating a terror attack at the current World Cup soccer tournament, and was only dissuaded out of concern for how Qatar, the host country, might respond.
Haliva also discussed the more than two-month-long ongoing protests and their implications for the Iranian regime.
He said that the regime is substantially worried about being toppled by the current mix of extended protests and the sanctions that the US and West have imposed on it.
Despite the regime’s concerns, which he said will lead it to act more violently and unpredictably, he said that “I do not see the regime as being in danger.”
Regarding the conflict between Iran and Israel in different parts of the region, he said, “the vision of [IRGC Quds Force Chief Qasem] Soleimani has fallen. There are very few Iranians in southern Syria. The number of Iranian personnel also in Syria [generally] is getting smaller. Iran sees the determination of Israel to deal with them. Most of the time if Iran pushes, most of the world retreats.”
He expressed that the Islamic Republic is continually surprised and impressed by Israeli determination and is reconsidering how best to expand its power.
Further, he added that “When Syria returns to being a sovereign state without Iranians, it may not be necessary” for regular Israeli operations in its territory.
Haliva said that Hezbollah is the top partner of Tehran and has reached the level where it is a true partner in an even bigger-picture strategy.
In contrast, he said the many other Iran-sponsored proxies have a lower level of input in Iran’s grand strategy.
“Iran is disappointed with its proxies,” said Haliva in terms of their inability to grow Iran’s influence within the region to much greater levels.
However, despite this temporary Iranian disappointment in its proxies, “they won’t stop. They won’t stop in Iraq, Yemen or Syria,” and Israel must be ready for the ayatollahs to expand into other countries as well.