Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi announced that the IDF is preparing military plans to strike Iran to block its nuclear program, in reaction to the Biden administration’s stated goal to rejoin the failed 2015 Obama nuclear deal which would quickly lead to an Iranian nuclear bomb capability.
Times of Israel (h/t Frederic F) “Iran can decide that it wants to advance to a bomb, either covertly or in a provocative way. In light of this basic analysis, I have ordered the IDF to prepare a number of operational plans, in addition to the existing ones. We are studying these plans and we will develop them over the next year,” Kohavi said.
According to Kohavi, due to its improved centrifuges and growing stockpile of enriched uranium, Iran, were it to now “rush ahead,” could be “months, maybe even weeks” from a bomb.
Israel has twice conducted military strikes against the nuclear programs of its enemies — Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007 — under what’s become known as the Begin Doctrine, which maintains that Jerusalem will not allow an enemy country to obtain an atomic weapon.
In a rare public comment on American foreign policy, the IDF chief warned that US President Joe Biden should not rejoin the 2015 nuclear agreement, as the American leader has indicated he plans to do provided Tehran returns to compliance with the deal.
Returning to the 2015 nuclear agreement or even to an agreement that is similar but with a few improvements is is not the right thing to do,” Kohavi said.
Due to the close relationship between the American and Israeli militaries, as well as the IDF’s general preference to keep out of political arguments, it is highly uncommon for military officials to criticize allies’ foreign policy.
Kohavi denounced the deal entirely, specifically for its so-called “sunset clauses,” the terms of the agreement limiting different aspects of Iran’s nuclear program that end after a certain number of years.
“If the 2015 nuclear deal were carried out, Iran would be able to get itself a weapon because the agreement did not include limits to prevent this when [the agreement] ended. As of today, Iran has increased the amount of enriched material beyond what was permitted. It enriched it to levels beyond what was permitted. It developed and manufactured centrifuges that will allow it to rush ahead and produce a weapon at a much faster rate, within months, maybe even weeks,” Kohavi said.
The military chief warned that a return to the Iran deal would also likely prompt a “nuclear arms race” in the Middle East as other countries in the region — like Saudi Arabia, which also sees Iran as a major threat — would also seek to obtain an atomic weapon in order to maintain the balance of power.
“The Iran of today is not the Iran of 2015 when the deal was signed. Iran now is under enormous pressure — financial pressure, massive inflation, bitterness and unrest in the population, whose salaries have tanked — because of the American sanctions levied by President Trump. These pressures must continue. Anything that releases that pressure gives them oxygen, gives them air and will allow them to continue to violate the current agreement,” Kohavi said.
Five years ago, nearly every Republican in the U.S. Congress—and many leading Democrats including Senators Charles Schumer, Bob Menendez, and Joe Manchin—opposed the Iran deal for good reasons. T
he agreement set expiration dates on key restrictions, ruled out on-demand inspections, and let Iran maintain its nuclear enrichment capabilities. It didn’t address the regime’s accelerating missile program, gave Tehran the financial resources to sponsor regional aggression and terrorism, and ignored its egregious abuse of human rights.
Recent escalation of tensions by Tehran looks like blackmail to force Biden to abandon sanctions—and give up leverage over the regime.