Response to Marc Lynch: Israel and Iran’s Nuclear Weapons
Regardless of who emerges victorious after Iran’s demonstrations dwindle, there is no doubt that Israel may eventually be forced into taking active steps with respect to the nuclear issue. Unless the Iranian people themselves embark on a new revolution to oust Ayatollah Ali Khamenei from his position as the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Tehran’s nuclear program will continue to develop and improve in the months ahead.
This position of power (the Supreme Leader) is the key to Israel and the Arab world when confronting Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. As long as Khamenei or a pro-Khamenei successor continues to rule Iran’s people with an iron fist, any chances of reconciliation or negotiation on its nuclear sites will prove meaningless.
On a similar note, If Khamenei successfully crushes the democratic camps lingering within Iranian politics (as he is currently doing in the face of peaceful demonstrations), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may find military force to be his only option in curtailing Iran’s enrichment capabilities.
Historically, such a move by Israel may not be a complete failure as some analysts have predicted. After all, Israeli Defense Forces performed this very same military operation against Saddam Hussein’s nuclear installations in 1981. Not only did the strike against Iraq buy Israel some time against a rising Arab power; it also created a more stable Middle East by eliminating a potential arms race by Iraq’s neighbors. Who is to say that a similar approach may not work?
If Israel does choose to implement a preemptive air strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities, it would be extremely wise for the United States to stay out of the conflict. In fact, U.S. interference would not only threaten American troops with Iranian-sponsored attacks in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan. Such U.S. meddling could go a step further by severely damaging the already strained American image in the Middle East. At a time when President Obama is gradually mending the differences between Washington and members of the Islamic world, poor P.R. is the last thing the White House needs.
In my eyes, a Mousavi victory over Ahmadinejad would be the same thing as a re-election of Ahmadinejad himself. The two have made it publicly known that Iran’s nuclear development will continue in the face of further U.N, U.S, and Israeli pressure.
-Daniel R. DePetris