We must do what it takes to stop Iran – editorial

Written by on September 11, 2021

Iran is once again stonewalling international investigations into its illicit nuclear activity. That is the latest conclusion from the most recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report sent to member states last week.

The news was hardly surprising. Iran has for decades tried to play the West to gain time, and to continue making strides and progress toward its true desire: achieving a nuclear weapons capability.

In two reports, the IAEA – the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog – said that there had been no progress on two central issues: explaining uranium traces found at several old, undeclared sites, and getting urgent access to some monitoring equipment so that the agency can continue to keep track of parts of Iran’s nuclear program.

“The director general is increasingly concerned that even after some two years the safeguards issues outlined above in relation to the four locations in Iran not declared to the Agency remain unresolved,” the second of the reports said.

The news came as the United States warned that time was running out for talks to resume with the objective of returning to the 2015 nuclear accord known as the JCPOA. 

President Joe Biden’s top nuclear envoy, Robert Malley, said last week that the US has yet to receive any indication whether Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, is even prepared to commit to holding a seventh round of negotiations in Vienna.

“We can’t wait forever as Iran continues its nuclear advances because at some point their advances will be such as to make a return to the JCPOA much less valuable to the US than it would otherwise be,” Malley told Bloomberg Television.

Israel’s response to the IAEA reports was quick to come. During a visit to Moscow on Thursday for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that Israel demands swift international action to curb Iran’s continued nuclear violations and advancements. 

“A nuclear Iran will lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East,” Lapid warned. “The world needs to stop Iran from getting nuclear capabilities, no matter the price. If the world doesn’t do it, Israel reserves the right to act… Israel will not allow Iran to become a nuclear state, or even a nuclear threshold state.”

Lapid’s comments echoed remarks by IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi in an interview with Walla News military correspondent Amir Bohbot before Rosh Hashanah. When the government decides, Kohavi told the news site, the military will have a variety of options to present to use to attack Iran’s nuclear program.

“We have intensified our preparations for operations in Iran,” he said. “A large portion of the increase in the defense budget is for this purpose. This is complicated work that requires a lot of intelligence, operational capabilities and munitions. We are working on it all.”

Israel’s rhetoric is not empty. The possibility that Iran will one day obtain a nuclear weapon or be on the threshold of doing so with very little breakout time is a threat under which Israel cannot live. It will impair Israel’s operational freedom, set off a nuclear arms race throughout the already volatile Middle East, and give Tehran’s proxies – primarily Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip – a feeling that they can get away with attacking Israel without paying a price.

Israel’s hope is that the world will understand that the Jewish state is not bluffing, and will take seriously its threat to use military force to stop Iran. The world would do well to keep in mind that Israel is the only country on the globe to twice – Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007 – launch airstrikes that successfully eliminated an enemy’s nuclear program.

What the world should also keep in mind is that this is an issue that crosses partisan lines. It is true that the current government is split between right-wing parties and left-wing parties, but Iran transcends those divisions. Stopping its nuclear arms race is a consensus issue that receives wide parliamentary support.

Will that be enough for the West to take the necessary economic and diplomatic steps to rein in Iran? That remains to be seen. The clock is ticking.

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