Deconstructing Iran

by Michael Curtis

According to JCPOA, Iran would reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98% for 15 years. Iran dismantled 13,000 of its centrifuges, leaving 5,000 in place, and allowing gradual restoration to start after ten years. Iran promised not to produce weapons grade plutonium at its Arak facility, and not to build new heavy water reactors for 15 years. Yet, in April 2017 it made a deal with China to reconstruct its heavy water reactor there. Iran also promised to stopped enrichment at its underground facility at Fordow, long kept secret from the world including the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA. Fordaw is supposedly no longer to produce fuel for a nuclear reactor, but is a research center. 

If it rains in Israel, it will pour in Iran. Israel replied immediately using 28 planes and firing 70 missiles aimed at Iranian facilities in Syria. Included were intelligence centers, radar station, weapons depots, anti-aircraft weaponry, storage facilities, observation posts, and operations headquarters. 

These hostilities were a contination of earlier encounters. It is Iran not the U.S. whose actions risk a broader conflict. Its senior military commander General Hossein Salami has bragged that Iran has become deeply influential in Syria, and participates in strikes against Israel. Iran on February 10, 2018 had fired an unmanned drone armed with explosives at Israel, but was shot down by Israeli helicopters. Israel responded with strikes against Syrian air defenses and Iranian targets, containing both personnel and weapons. The large scale response included an attack on the T4 air base, near the city of Homs, from which the drone had been launched. The raid led to the loss, as a result of Syrian anti-aircraft, of a F16 fighter jet, the first time since 1982 that Israel had lost a warplane.

Iran now has a well equipped arsenal, with offensive and defensive rockets and missiles, including SA-22 (Pantsir-S1) aerial interception system, a Russian made tank with short to medium range surface to air missile, and an anti-aircraft weapons system. It has five airfields in Syria, used as bases for sending drones, or from which weapons are sent to Hezbollah, and a military command center at Aleppo Airport. Iran also plans an overland route, from Teheran to Damacus, virtually up to Israeli territory. That particular ambition also may bring clashes with U.S. forces and its proxies presently in the areas.

in which Hezbollah won the majority of seats. Its danger to Israel has grown as Iran has been sending advanced weapons and convoys to it. Estimates suggest that Hezbollah has at least 65,000 rockets and missiles. the most important of which is the Tishreen missle with a control and guidance system.

A crucial question is whether Russia has the interest or the ability to restrain Iran, with which it does not have identical interests. Russian behavior may be a reflection of the recent attitude towards Jews as more synagues have opened in Moscow and a new yeshiva in the Moscow suburb of Malakhovka. Also, Israel did not subscribe to western sanctions against Russia because of Crimea or the murders of Russians in Britain.