Now or Never – Israel and Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program

Iran is busy building new, impenetrable nuclear bunkers and developing advanced ballistic missiles. What is Israel waiting for?

By Yochanan Visser | | Topics: Iran
Iran tests a new ballistic missile clearly intended to attack Israel, while the Islamic Republic's nuclear program defiantly pushes forward. Photo by EPA-EFE/IRAN DEFENCE MINISTRY
Iran tests a new ballistic missile clearly intended to attack Israel, while the Islamic Republic's nuclear program defiantly pushes forward. Photo by EPA-EFE/IRAN DEFENCE MINISTRY

There are all kinds of developments that indicate Israel is getting closer to direct action against Iran.

One such indication is the open manner in which key officials are now talking about the need for Israeli action against the regime in Iran.

This not only has to do with the increasing aggression of the various terrorist groups that Iran has introduced into the so-called ‘resistance axis,’ but also with developments in the nuclear weapons program of the Islamic Republic.

The nuclear weapons program was back at the forefront of public and private discussions in Israel last week, and the same was true of the aggression that the Islamic Republic displays towards the Jewish state.


“We are far ahead of the enemy”

Let’s start with the latter. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said on several occasions that Iran is responsible for 95 percent of all the terror that has plagued Israel over the past few years.

Bibi is convinced that Iran was also behind the recent mini-wars with the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the increasing aggression of Hezbollah, which last week held its first military exercise close to the border with Israel.

Netanyahu also made a comment last Wednesday suggesting that Israel could take pre-emptive and sophisticated action, such as the one taken against PIJ, against Iran.

After a visit to an intelligence unit of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the prime minister went on to say that Israel’s enemies must know that “the future is already here” and that “the enemy must know that we are far ahead of them.”

He based this on what he had seen at the IDF base in the Negev Desert, and he later posted a video on his Twitter account saying that the IDF is making extensive use of human and artificial intelligence in the fight against Iran.

The visit to the IDF intelligence unit had made him more optimistic, he added.


Underground nuclear facility

This brings us to the latest developments in the nuclear crisis between Iran and Israel.

While the West, such as the European Union, seems to focus exclusively on sanctions against Iran’s human rights abuses, Israel appears to be gearing up for direct military action against Iran.

This is now happening after it became known that Iran is building a new nuclear facility deep underground near the existing nuclear plant Natanz.

In the recent past, Natanz has been the scene of mysterious explosions and other acts of sabotage that Iran attributed to Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency.

The new underground nuclear facility is located under a 1,600-meter mountain in the Zagros Mountains of north-western Iran.

The facility is being built 80 to 100 meters below the mountain, which is deeper than the Fordow nuclear facility,  another underground nuclear site.

According to some weapons experts, this will mean that the facility is likely to become untouchable even for the largest bunker-penetrating bomb in the world, the GBU-57 A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator of the United States Air Force.

Israel does not possess such a weapon and only has lighter bunker busters, the Spice missile, and the ‘Rocks,’ a bunker-penetrating ballistic missile designed by Rafael.

According to Israeli experts, it will take some time before the new underground facility will be completed.


Israeli officials warn Iran

General Herzi Halevi, the chief of staff of the IDF, also addressed the growing threat from Iran and its nuclear weapons program last week.

At a security summit in the Israeli city of Herzliya, Halevi said that “Iran is involved in everything around us and is with everyone who is against us.”

Speaking of the multi-front war against Iran the IDF prepares for, the general said Israel has the capabilities to severely crack down on the nation’s enemies more than ever before.

He advised the leaders of Iran and their allies such as the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah not to remain indifferent to this.

Halevi was not the only top Israeli official last week to talk about the need to deal directly with Iran. Tzachi Hanegbi, the national security adviser to the Israeli government also addressed the issue.

Speaking at the same security conference in Herzliya, Henegbi said that it is “now or never” regarding decisive action against Iran.

The veteran Israeli politician said this after talking about Iran reprocessing uranium to an 84 percent level. A 90 percent level is needed for the production of a nuclear warhead.

This means that if Iran were to decide to do so, it could break out for a nuclear bomb in a matter of weeks.


Israel’s options

There’s currently discussion among experts about which options are available to Israel in order to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Some of them are pointing out that the Israeli security apparatus has other options at its disposal to push that program back by three to five years.

The Israel Air Force could, for example, bomb the power plants of the nuclear facilities and, in the case of the underground nuclear facilities, the entrances would have to be destroyed.

In both cases, this could also be done by Mossad, which has wide experience in sabotaging Iranian nuclear facilities and even infiltrating the top ranks of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as became clear recently.

Last week the regime in Iran forced Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of the National Security Council of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, to resign.

Shamkhani and Alireza Akbari, an Iranian with a British passport, are said to have passed information about Iran’s nuclear program to Israel.

Akbari was previously arrested and later executed by the regime in Tehran after he allegedly passed on information about the activities and whereabouts of some 100 top officials to Mossad.

Among those hundred was Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was commonly referred to as the father of Iran’s nuclear program.

Fakhrizadeh was shot dead with a remote-controlled rifle near his home in 2020, an assassination widely attributed to Mossad.


Regime change

The best option to curb Iran’s growing threat to Israel, however, is to topple the regime of Ayatollah Al Khamenei.

The ongoing public protests in Iran seem to be a unique opportunity to exploit this option.

This requires Western aid for the rebellious masses, since Israel alone is unable to organize a coup d’etat in Iran.

The West, led by the United States, can do this. It was possible in 1953 when the US and UK helped to topple the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, and in 1979 when Western countries such as France supported Khomeini’s Islamic coup. And it is possible now.

Even within the IRGC, there are enough members who support the current popular protest against the Khamenei regime and have become disgruntled after more than 530 Iranians were killed during and after demonstrations.

The huge economic crisis in Iran offers a unique opportunity to finish off Khamenei’s regime by imposing real biting sanctions and by giving weapons to opposition groups inside Iran, such as the Kurdish PAK.

The economic crisis in Iran is far more severe than previously thought, a report circulating in the Persian language media revealed.

According to the report titled “The actual budget deficit in Iran’s economy,” the regime in Tehran is facing a staggering $18 billion budget deficit and has built up an accumulated debt of  $71 billion, which is about 31 percent of the Iranian gross domestic product.

In addition, the Iranian government owes the National Development Fund $74 billion and is facing an inflation rate of 70 percent, which is the highest rate in 30 years.

According to the report, which was based on recent IMF data, the regime can only tackle the multiple economic challenges by selling oil at a price of $351.7 per barrel, something that is impossible in today’s international markets.


Ballistic missile test

Iranian experts now think that the regime can expect a fresh wave of nationwide demonstrations in the near future.

The regime in Tehran, meanwhile, continues to fund terrorist organizations in the Middle East and spends huge amounts of money on developing its nuclear program and the introduction of new advanced weaponry.

Just last week it was revealed that Iran had successfully tested a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to Israel.

This concerned the Khoramshahr 4 Kheibar ballistic missile, which has a range of 2,000 kilometers and could carry a 1,500-kilogram warhead.

The name of the newest missile in the Khoramshahr program refers to a seventh-century battle between the army of Prophet Mohammed and Jewish tribes living in Kheibar, which was located in what is now Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s ballistic missile program is now the largest in the Middle East, and the same goes for the Islamic Republic’s drone program, not counting Israel’s capabilities.


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