Following on the heels of the Biden administration’s announcement that it would reenter the Iran Nuclear Deal, Israel appears to be readying plans to strike at Iran on its own.
Re-entering the Iran Deal in its current incarnation would mean, in effect, paying off Iran to stop enriching uranium; delisting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization and seeing their funding restored; looking the other way as Iran continues its clandestine nuclear activity; allowing the testing of missiles; giving Iran a pass on its human-rights abuses; and doing nothing to degrade Iran’s current nuclear capabilities.
Israel has stated publicly that this would be unacceptable to it. Israel has urged President Biden to carry on the tough sanctions regime imposed by President Trump. Iran has attempted to increase pressure on the Biden administration by warning the United States to quickly re-enter the agreement.
No Deal Is a Good Deal for Israel
Israel has not been standing idle. Today, the Israeli Defense Forces Twitter account relayed the remarks of Chief of the General Staff LTG Aviv Kohavi as he spoke live at the Institute for National Security Studies 14th Annual International Conference:
“If the 2015 nuclear deal had been implemented, Iran eventually would have been able to construct a bomb, because the agreement did not include restrictions and oversight to prevent it.
I would like to clarify my position regarding the JCPOA [the Iran nuclear deal]: Even if an improved agreement is reached, it will be a bad agreement at the operational and strategic level. Therefore, such an agreement must not be enabled.
I have instructed the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] to prepare several operational plans in addition to existing ones, which we will develop throughout the coming year. The power to initiate them lies with the political echelon. However, the offensive options need to be prepared, ready and on the table.”
Very clearly, Israel is against the United States re-entering the Iran Nuclear Deal in its existing form. Perhaps anticipating that Biden would win the 2020 election, the Israeli military had begun planning for a strike some six months ago.
Israeli Defense Forces Request Additional Funding
YNET News reported today that the IDF has requested some $1.23 billion in additional funding specifically for an offensive battle plan against Iran. This funding would likely cover stockpiling armaments like bombs and missiles to give the IDF reloads for weapons expended in an initial attack. It is one thing to posture and reposition ships and troops, it is quite another to start ordering reloads for ordnance you plan to expend in a protracted fight.
The report also said that the IDF received a record number of Arabic-speaking volunteers in recent months seeking to join the reserves and regular army. These troops are typically part of the border guard units that man positions near Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinian territories.
Israel has also announced a month-long series of exercises simulating a war with Iran. The exercises will include maneuvers involving brigade-sized formations with air and artillery support integration. Such a war would not necessarily mean an invasion of Iran, but most likely a move into Iranian-occupied areas of Syria.
Israel Has Repositioned Submarines
Israel has also moved submarines into the region — most likely into the Persian Gulf — in an attempt to keep most of the Iranian Navy confined to its bases. The Israeli submarines would probably be engaging any sortieing Iranian naval units and trying to identify and sink Iranian-flagged vessels attempting to resupply Iranian forces in Lebanon and possibly in Yemen.
Israel’s five submarines are of the diesel/electric type. Two are believed to have Air-Independent Propulsion systems that use compressed oxygen or hydrogen allowing their main engines to run while submerged. This gives the submarines the ability to remain below the surface for as much as 30 days at a time.
The two latest variants of Israel’s Dolphin II-class submarines have torpedo tubes that may allow them to fire nuclear cruise missiles like the UGM-84 Harpoon or the locally-made Gabriel 4LR anti-ship missiles.
A War of Missiles
In an open conflict with Iran, Israel would likely be engaged in a two-front war on the air and ground: one in Lebanon to destroy Hezbollah fighters and missiles; and another in Syria to destroy Iranian-backed militias that are also armed with missiles.
The IDF has launched dozens of strikes into Syria and Lebanon in recent years without response or reprisal from either Iran or Syria. This could suggest that in both countries, Iranian-backed forces are seeking to build their missile forces to a critical mass before launching an all-out attack. This hypothesis is supported by Israel’s efforts, in recent airstrikes, to target missile depots.
While still nascent, all signs are currently pointing to an Israeli offensive in the region.