Iran’s Nuclear and Regional Ambitions and their Implications for the State of Israel

In recent years the Islamic Republic of Iran has transformed from a veritable pariah within the international community to a major regional power that wields expansionist and nuclear ambitions. The Islamic Republic of Iran has proven itself time and again to be a diehard sponsor of terrorism and terrorist activities, especially against Jewish and Israeli people or interests. Far from being in favor of democracy, the Iranian leadership is motivated by a strong desire for regional power which will help to expedite the export of Iran’s unique brand of Shia Islam and the ascendancy of Iran to a position of hegemony in the Middle East. The US State Department defines Iran as one of three of the world’s premier exporters of State-sponsored terrorism.  An Iran armed with nuclear weapons and emboldened by newly lifted sanctions and funding from the West is not only a danger to western democracies such as the United States, but also poses a grave threat to the State of Israel, her people, and the regional equilibrium that Israel engenders.

Since emerging as an Islamic Republic in 1979, the Iranian government has engaged in a massive campaign of ruthless bombings, shooting attacks, and other terroristic actions through its many proxies (Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthi rebels, etc.). These include the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as well as attacks on the Israeli Embassy and Jewish areas in Buenos Aires in the 1990s. One also must consider including the bombing of US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in the 80s and the bus of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria in recent years. Beyond its direct implication in terror attacks such as these, the complete leadership of Iran, from its spiritual stewards the Velayat-e-Faqih (‘Guardianship of the Jurist’), to its prime ministers, to the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards Corps all have expressed ideological, material, and monetary support for Shia Islamic terrorist groups that have sworn to destroy the State of Israel.  

Equipped with some of the newest military hardware and weapons and with a massive army, navy, and Air Force, the Islamic Republic of Iran is not only expanding itself domestically, but in recent years has heavily involved itself in regional conflicts where it stands to gain influence and support. This includes the burgeoning war in Syria and Iraq, where Iranian-backed militias receive monetary aid and often direct support from elements of the Iranian military, as well as from the elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, a branch of the political and military elite in Iran that has been shown to possess significant links to terrorist activities by authorities such as the US State Department. This correlation grows even stronger, however, when considering the significant ties between various institutions within Iran and the Shia Islamist group Hezbollah.

Hezbollah rose to power with a large amount of Iranian assistance in the 1980s. In the years since its founding, Hezbollah has transformed itself with the help of Iranian military and financial aid into a veritable standing army which still employs terrorism as a tactic. The group is also one of the main forces in Lebanese politics, holding many seats in the Lebanese Parliament. Hezbollah thus acts as an Iranian client and a vessel for Iranian foreign policy. The relationship between the two enables Iran, which shares no geographic border with Israel, to militarily engage it via proxy.

Hezbollah stands ready on Israel’s northern border equipped with over 100,000 rockets, many of which are Iranian supplied and supported medium to long-range rockets, such as the M-307, which has the capability to target and cause extensive damage to Israeli population centers such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  Some of these rocket batteries are rigged to launch from residential neighborhoods, thereby creating an ethical dilemma for any IDF force attempting to neutralize them, similar to the situation created by the militant Islamist terror group Hamas in Gaza. By comparison, during its 2014 war with Israel, Hamas fired only about 1,000 rocket projectiles, many of which were crude homemade missiles with ranges not designed to exceed +/- 1½  kilometers.

Hamas possessed only a few medium and long range missiles in 2014, most of which were intercepted by Israeli defenses such as the Iron Dome anti-missile system. In a similar conflict with Hezbollah or Iran, the prospect of intercepting every single missile out of a deluge of hundreds of thousands is either highly unlikely or downright impossible. Assuming that Iran or Hezbollah were ever to attain nuclear capability, such a threat to the State of Israel is multiplied one hundredfold. Iran already possesses missiles and rockets large enough to carry nuclear munitions, the question is: how much time will Iran spend before it reaches the weaponized enrichment threshold of its fissionable materials, regardless of the so-called “nuclear deal” with the west?

An Iranian state with nuclear weapons, coupled with the already-expansionist ideology driving the country, will be disastrous, not only for the safety of the Jewish state, but also for her allies and rest of the free world. In order to keep safe the values of freedom and democracy that the West and Israel share, Iran must be halted in its quest for domination of the Middle East.