Israel is Bluffing Against the Iranian Nuclear Horn

Professor calls Israeli persistent threat to bomb Iran a bluff

TEHRAN – An American professor is of the opinion that Israel’s threat to bomb Iran’s research facilities is a “bluff”.

“I rather doubt Israel is having much impact on the negotiations, especially since their position is no Iranian nuclear program at all,” Professor Ronnie Lipschutz tells the Tehran Times.

Israel has threatened military action to destroy Iran’s nuclear program if need be. But defense officials say Israel does not have that capability.

“Their persistent threat to bomb research facilities strikes me now as a bluff, since it would likely trigger all kinds of responses along Israel’s borders. Israel missed its chance under Trump.”

With diplomatic efforts underway in Vienna to lift sanctions on Iran and again put a limit on Iran’s nuclear program, Israel’s defense minister has ordered his forces to prepare a military option, warning the world that Israel would take matters into its own hands if a new nuclear agreement did not sufficiently constrain Iran.

But several current and former senior Israeli military officials and experts say that Israel lacks the ability to pull off an assault that could destroy, or even significantly delay, Iran’s nuclear program.

Following is the text of the interview with Ronnie Lipschutz about the Vienna talks and Israel’ efforts to hamper the negotiations:

Q: Regardless of political propaganda, what do the American politicians think about Iran’s position on nuclear talks?  U.S. intelligence service has confirmed that Iran was not seeking nuclear weapons and both sides know well the problem is lack of trust between Iran and the U.S., not nuclear capacities.

A: I don’t know of a single person in Congress or the Administration who is not opposed to Iran’s nuclear program and position (there are probably some on the left who believe it is a tempest in a teapot).  There is no electoral gain for them in counseling moderation, balance or compromise.  And a rational strategic analysis of the Middle East (West Asia) would suggest that true deterrence is not desired by the U.S. or Israel.  The program provides leverage and the implicit threat to “build a bomb” in the future will always be there (does that last sentence make sense?).

Democrats are looking to the midterm elections and fear that Republicans might use the Iran “threat” to bludgeon them. Q: Many critics say the new U.S. administration is moving too slowly to revive the JCPOA, maybe due to some domestic factors. What is your point of view?

A: The Democrats are looking to the 2022 midterm elections and fear that the Republicans might use the “threat” from Iran to bludgeon them.  Since the Senate is 50-50 and the House is not far from that, it will not take many flipped seats to give the Republicans a majority.  So, I think the Biden Administration is moving very gingerly on rejoining in earnest.

Q: Could you brief us on Israeli role in hampering efforts to revitalize the JCPOA?

A: I rather doubt Israel is having much impact on the negotiations, especially since their position is no Iranian nuclear program at all.  Their persistent threat to bomb research facilities strikes me now as a bluff, since it would likely trigger all kinds of responses along Israel’s borders.  Israel missed its chance under Trump.

Q: Do you think the core problem is technical or political when it comes to Iran’s nuclear capacities? Nobody blames Pakistan or India or Israel for their nuclear weapons because they have close ties with the U.S. while the Western powers are concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, which is being monitored by the Atomic Energy Agency.

A: These things are always political.  The scientists and engineers say what is possible with so many cameras, inspectors, etc.  But the decision to accept one proposal or another rests on the negotiators’ judgments about risk, especially geopolitical and domestic.

Q: Do you think the negotiators in Vienna will agree on a middle ground?
A: Yes. It will be whatever point Iran has reached in enrichment, because there is really no way to back it up, unless Iran agrees to give up its enriched uranium and go back to 3 or 4%. I cannot imagine the Iranian government agreeing to export its enriched uranium and sanctions have not worked to stop the program so far, so why would they work in the future?

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