Israeli Army Says Nuclear Iran Would Hinder Military Aggression in Gaza, Lebanon

The admission discredits Israel's stated claims that Iran presents a threat to their existence

A nuclear Iran might make it more difficult for Israel to attack its immediate neighbors, according to a senior Israeli military official on Tuesday. 

Military planning division chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said if Tehran attains nuclear weapons, that could constrain Israel from striking Iranian-backed groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. “If we are forced to do things in Gaza or in Lebanon, under the Iranian nuclear umbrella it might be different,” Eshel said at a briefing in Jerusalem.

Concern in the U.S. and Israel over Iran’s nuclear program has increased in recent months, bringing harsh economic sanctions and calls from both Americans and Israelis for a unilateral military strike against Iran. The latest event in the controversy came last week when another Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated in a plot widely suspected as the work of Israel, the U.S., or both.

Still, there is no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, and the opinion of the U.S. intelligence community, the Obama administration, and the latest IAEA report is that Iran’s enrichment is so far civilian in nature.

Israel has tried to couch the debate in terms of Iran representing an existential threat. But at a time when Israel has announced its intention to attack Gaza yet again, Maj. Gen. Eshel’s admission that a nuclear Iran would actually mean a more militarily constrained Israel is a sign that the Israeli leadership is not being genuine about its concerns.

Previous admissions of Iran’s rational approach to international politics and the nuclear issue – as opposed to the extremist genocidal one they normally try to portray – have made headlines as well. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak admitted in November that Iran might want a nuclear weapon because it would elevate them to the level of the other great powers that are nuclear capable. He even admitted that Iran might want a nuclear weapon because of Israel’s possession of several hundred nuclear warheads.

Indeed, the vast majority of academic literature on the subject agrees that Iran, if it chose to attain a nuclear weapon, would do so to acquire a deterrent in the threat environment they face with constant U.S. and Israeli aggression.

At this point, it seems likely that the Israeli leadership is aggressive towards Iran not because they fear being “wiped off the map,” but rather because they fear they will lose their sway in the region and the fear they use to act militarily against their neighbors.

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.