Amid Boasting IDF Can Strike Nuclear Facilities.
After increasing talk by Israel about its willingness to strike Iran by itself as a last resort to halt the country’s nuclear program, Tehran has sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) warning Israel against a “military adventure” against the Islamic Republic.
Delivered on Thursday and printed in Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, the letter comes as Iran makes preparations to return to Vienna for negotiations on reviving the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) next week.
“We warn the Zionist regime against any miscalculation or military adventure targeting Iran and its nuclear program,” wrote Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, referring to Israel.
Ravanchi said Israel has taken its “provocative and adventurous threats… to alarming levels” in recent months, especially as the Biden administration in Washington continues to slowly press ahead on the Vienna talks. He said the “systematic and explicit threats by the Zionist regime … prove that it is responsible for terrorist attacks against [Iran’s] peaceful nuclear program in the past.”
Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency has been blamed for a string of mysterious bombings and accidents in Iran in recent years that have all targeted Iran’s nuclear program, including the brazen daytime assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, one of Iran’s seniormost nuclear scientists, on a highway outside Tehran last November.
The Israeli government has been highly critical of the 2015 nuclear deal, saying it won’t stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and warning that its increasing volume and purity of enriched uranium points to an increasing danger from Tehran. However, Israeli intelligence has been less alarmist, with both Mossad and IDF intelligence saying Iran is nowhere near getting a bomb and doesn’t seem to be trying very hard.
In addition, Tehran has forsworn the use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ruling they violate Islamic law.
Last month, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said that “the IDF and the intelligence community know a fair amount about what is happening in Iran and are working against Iranian entrenchment throughout the Middle East. Operations to counter threatening Iranian capabilities will continue in various arenas and at any time.”
“The operational plans against Iran’s nuclear program will continue to evolve and improve. Whatever may come – it is our duty to provide an effective and timely military response,” Kochavi added.
Despite the rhetoric, the new administration of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has proven more flexible in its approach to Iran than his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, who was head of government for more than a decade. Also last month, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told the US magazine Foreign Policy that Israel could accept the JCPOA if the Biden administration demonstrated it had a viable “Plan B” in case negotiations failed.
Still, on Wednesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told his American counterpart, Antony Blinken, during a press conference in Washington, DC, that Jerusalem “reserves the right” to strike Iran first if necessary.
“Other options are going to be on the table if diplomacy fails,” Lapid said. “By saying other options, I think everyone understands – here, in Israel, in the Emirates, and in Tehran – what it is that we mean.”
The Israeli government’s confidence in its ability to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, even though many are located deep inside the country and buried inside mountains, derives from a legendary strike in 1981 against Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor. The unfinished nuclear plant, which many in the region feared would help Saddam Hussein build a nuclear bomb, was destroyed by IDF fighter jets who flew more than 2,000 miles round trip. Ironically, Iran secretly helped the Israelis plan the strike.