Israel Prepares to Strike
The Israeli government recently allocated 5 billion shekels ($1.5 billion) to prepare the Israel Defense Forces to strike Iran’s nuclear program, much of which is sheltered in heavily fortified sites underground or deep inside mountains.
The allocation was made days after the United States Air Force announced it successfully tested a new “bunker buster” bomb, the GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator. The 5,000-pound device, developed to destroy targets that are hardened or buried deep underground, could be used by both fighter and bomber aircraft to strike Iranian nuclear sites.
The developments come amid growing concern that Iran may soon have nuclear weapons, as well as ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. In August, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned that Iran was merely 10 weeks away from having enough weapons-grade materials to build a nuclear bomb.
Israel says Iran’s nuclear program has progressed greatly since U.S. President Joe Biden rescinded former President Donald Trump’s sanctions on Iran. In 2018, Trump withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and reimposed “the highest level of economic sanctions,” which the Obama administration had lifted.
Trump warned the JCPOA nuclear deal would not prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and did not address Iran’s ballistic-missile program or Tehran’s support for terrorist groups in the Middle East.
Biden lifted the sanctions in February 2021, hoping Iran would return to the negotiating table. However, Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric like Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been driving a hard bargain.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, warned that Tehran will never give up its quest to become a nuclear power: “They believe in the Shi’ite revival,” he said. “It’s important to grasp the importance they attach to this goal. As Westerners, we ignore their mindset. The Iranians feel that they have divine intervention helping them.” Segall added, “The nuclear program is the anchor that would allow Iran to position itself in the role that it has defined for itself. Becoming a nuclear state would influence all of Iran’s tentacles in the region.”
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the UN General Assembly, “Iran’s great goal is crystal clear to anybody who cares to open their eyes: Iran seeks to dominate the region—and seeks to do so under a nuclear umbrella.” He warned, “Iran’s nuclear program has hit a watershed moment. And so has our tolerance. Words do not stop centrifuges from spinning. . . . We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Israel is prepared to use military force to stop Iran from gaining nuclear capability. “Iran has publicly stated it wants to wipe us out,” he said. “We have no intention of letting this happen.”
John Hannah, an analyst at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, said there is zero chance Biden will order an attack on Iran. Hannah urged the United States to supply Israel with the necessary weapons: “As Iran crashes through one nuclear red line after another, the day when Israel is forced to act could be much closer than many people think. Given the unprecedented threat to Israel’s existence that an Iranian nuclear bomb would entail, the United States should do everything in its power to arm its closest Middle Eastern ally, which could very soon be the final obstacle standing between Iran and the bomb.”