Israel and Iran operate in different time zones. However, there is one clock both seek to beat and which they simultaneously monitor. Israel is 2 and 0 against other nations competing to beat it, failing to achieve their goal before Israel acted to put an end to their effort. There should be little doubt the mullahs are well aware of this and are working feverishly to prevent a similar outcome in their case.
During the 1970s, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein tried to persuade France to sell it a nuclear reactor, similar to one used by France in its weapons program. France refused, however, but ultimately agreed to help Iraq build a 40 megawatt nuclear research reactor near Baghdad. Israel believed Iraq’s intent was eventually to develop nuclear weapons and began closely monitoring the facility’s progress.
In July 1980, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Sam Lewis, after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, warned President Jimmy Carter that the Israelis might well launch a preemptive strike against the reactor.
Less than a year later, on June 7, 1981, only nine days after the Iran-Iraq war erupted, the timing was ideal for the Israelis to act, launching a surprise air assault. Ten Iraqi soldiers and a French nuclear engineer were killed in “Operation Opera,” which reduced the Iranian facility to rubble.
While the Israelis claimed the strike “put the nuclear genie of Baghdad back into his bottle,” the world community widely condemned the attack – including the U.S., which backed a U.N. resolution censuring Israel. However, one decade later, it was a grateful U.S. that launched its 1991 attack into Iraq during Desert Storm, relieved of any concerns about a nuclear-armed Saddam.
The Israeli attack against Iraq inaugurated the “Begin Doctrine,” named after the prime minister at the time. The doctrine recognized that Israel would not tolerate any of its enemies attaining nuclear weapons and would do whatever was required to prevent it from happening.
Twenty-six years later, in 2007, Israel would implement the Begin Doctrine again as it faced another challenge from an evolving nuclear threat. While this threat was posed by Iran, which was financing a nuclear facility being built with technological assistance from North Korea, the site itself was actually in neighboring Syria. This was obviously being done with the cooperation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an Iranian ally.
Again Israel closely monitored the facility’s development and decided, in 2007, the timing was right once more to employ the Begin Doctrine. Israel offered the U.S. the opportunity to conduct the attack, but it declined. After analyzing when to strike – both before the reactor became operational so as to avoid environmental concerns over its destruction and to provide Israel’s air force the best operational conditions – the attack was undertaken on Sept. 6, 2007.
The facility was totally destroyed with virtually no international criticism this time. Since Syria had been building the facility secretly in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to which it was a signatory, it remained quiet about the attack to avoid any criticism. Thus, so too did Israel.
While Israel has successfully rolled out the Begin Doctrine twice now, the greatest nuclear challenge to its existence lies ahead.
From the first day Iran’s own secret nuclear development program was discovered, the mullahs have claimed their intentions were peaceful, aimed at developing nuclear energy. Rest assured, they have no interest in reducing Iran’s carbon footprint; rather, they recognize that a nuclear arsenal opens the door for them to threaten nuclear blackmail to achieve their stated goal of global domination.
In fact, some Iranian leaders, brazenly believing their nuclear program will never be stopped, have already admitted their earlier peaceful claims were false.
Iran’s goal of Islamic domination means destroying those countries daring to stand in its way – countries like Israel, which the mullahs have repeatedly vowed to annihilate even if it causes Iran to go up in flames. Thus, there should be no “warm and fuzzy” feeling about Tehran obtaining a nuclear arsenal.
For these reasons, Israel has been closely monitoring the development of Iran’s nuclear program. It has been successful not only in raiding sites there in 2018 to steal secret information documenting the status of Iran’s program but also in exposing Iranian computers to malware in 2010 that possibly set back Tehran’s nuclear program several years. Israel has done all it can, short of war, to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear armed country. But it is running low on such non-violent, preemptive options.
In a recent speech before the U.N. General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett declared, “Iran’s nuclear program is at a critical point. All red lines have been crossed.” He added that the program “has hit a watershed moment, and so has our tolerance.” While appealing to the international community for help, he vowed to stop Iran from obtaining nukes no matter what the cost.
The fact that Israel has quietly negotiated overflight rights with Arab nations that are similarly concerned about Iran and has conducted simulated attack exercises with the U.S. against Tehran’s numerous nuclear sites suggests Israel is taking Iran’s threat seriously.
Almost two centuries ago, in 1823, the U.S. implemented the “Monroe Doctrine” under President James Monroe declaring that any intervention by external powers in the politics of the Americas would be viewed as a potentially hostile act against the U.S. The reality of foreign influence in the Americas today underscores the fact we have abandoned the Monroe Doctrine.
In the weeks ahead, as Iran gets closer to becoming a nuclear armed nation, Israel will be faced with the decision whether to strike Iran, or not – the latter obviously meaning it is abandoning the Begin Doctrine.
For us, abandoning the Monroe Doctrine did not present an immediate direct threat to our very existence. However, for Israel, abandoning the Begin Doctrine, does.
These two opposing forces are clearly headed on a collision course. Sometime within the very near future, one way or another, the world will witness the fallout from the impact.
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