Israel and Iran seem poised for conflict as Tehran continues its moves toward nuclear armament.
Earlier this week, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl testified at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Ukraine that Iran could be less than two weeks away from enriching uranium to levels needed for a nuclear weapon, as reported by ABC News.
According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, nine countries currently possess nuclear weapons. Russia and the United States hold the vast majority of nuclear warheads in the world.
Others with smaller nuclear arsenals include China, France, the U.K., Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. Some U.S. nuclear weapons are hosted in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.
With Iran potentially making ready to be counted on this list, Israel seems to be preparing for military action. Many are now concerned about an all-out war erupting between the two countries.
Bernard Avishai, a professor of government at Dartmouth, told ABC News that, while some of the tension is likely posturing, the situation is nevertheless “very, very dangerous.”
Israel hopes to gain more U.S. support for any military action against Tehran but has stated it will pursue force unilaterally if required.
“If the United States does not establish a credible military threat immediately, either Israel will attack, or Iran will have a nuclear weapon, which we will not allow under any circumstance,” said Eli Cohen, Israel’s defense minister, per ABC News.
Iran’s growing military ties with Russia further complicate the situation. As The Dallas Express recently reported, Iranian drones have been deployed by Russia in Ukraine.
Iran has also obtained military hardware from Russia in the past and is now seeking S400 air defenses from Moscow, per Bloomberg. Israeli officials claim this delivery could change the balance of power, reducing their window of opportunity for a strike against Iranian targets.
“Israel’s appetite for risk seems to have increased” lately, according to Dalia Dassa Kaye of the Burkle Center for International Relations at the University of California at Los Angeles.
A February 21 report from the Israeli television network Keshet 12 claims that Netanyahu “held a series of secret high-level meetings with top military officials aimed at upping preparations for a possible confrontation with Iran.”
The two countries have traded blows in the past, including multiple incidents this year.
Earlier this year, Israel reportedly launched drone strikes targeting Iranian weapons facilities with ties to the country’s nuclear program.
Iran allegedly retaliated with a “kamikaze” drone, hitting an Israeli tanker in the Arabian Sea. “Kamikaze” or “suicide” drones are among the type Russia uses in Ukraine.
Following the attack in the Arabian Sea, Israel allegedly hit a residential neighborhood in Damascus, Syria, where some members of Iran’s military reportedly met, per ABC News.
Concerns that the U.S. or other allies could be pulled into war have also been mounting.
According to a January 26 release from U.S. Central Command, the U.S. and Israel recently concluded their largest “partnered exercise” ever, with approximately 6,400 U.S. troops and over 1,500 Israel troops participating.
The Burkle Center’s Kaye noted in Foreign Affairs that Netanyahu has argued an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would contribute to the Western war effort against Moscow.
However, Trita Parsi, an expert on Iran with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told ABC News that he believes “Neither side is suicidal.”
“They don’t know what the new red lines are. They’re doing trial and error. And at some point, there will be an error,” warned Parsi.