The deal between Iran and the rest of the world has been made. The diplomatic initiative has failed. Sanctions on Iran will be lifted and the country will grow more powerful economically and militarily as a result. The Americans are well and truly out of the Middle Eastern and the rest of us who enjoyed living in their orbit are just going to have to fend for ourselves.
It’s not unreasonable to expect a new Cold War to erupt between Tehran and Jerusalem now that the Ayatollahs have been let off their leash of international sanctions. Even if the quid pro quo of remaining what has been termed a nuclear breakout state is maintained Tehran has the advantage. As you read this they are tightening their grip over Yemen, the latest Arab country to fall under their control. As the Saudis get themselves bogged down in a war against an Iranian proxy the Iranians are rubbing their hands with glee Their star is ascending. Now all eyes are on them. The whole of the Middle East is now petrified as to what their next move will be and what form it will take. Even Israel rushed to apologise after accidentally killing an Iranian general during a strike on the Syrian Golan Heights.
This needs to change.
The deal made with Iran will have other countries in the region eyeing their own military capabilities, both conventional and unconventional. If Iran is a breakout state then maybe they’ll need to be. The United States has already guaranteed some countries more powerful weaponry in order to offset the threat posed to them by Iran. This will affect Israel’s qualitative edge significantly. In addition to the worry of Iran gaining the bomb is the worry Iran will pass a device on to one of its proxies to use against Israel. These are the new challenges Israel faces.
It may seem like Iran has the upper hand at the moment but it’s worth remembering that what Iran seeks Israel already has. Whereas a policy of nuclear ambiguity has worked in the past this deal with Iran has changed the Middle East entirely. It will spawn the nuclear arms race Israeli ambiguity has successfully avoided starting. But now the nuclear cat is out of the bag and we can expect Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to begin work on their own programs to counteract Iran’s.
Is is time for Israel once again to be dominating the agenda rather than kowtowing to someone else’s. A nuclear test, in full view of the world will make a strong statement on the part of Israel. It will be a powerful reminder that Israel is still a regional superpower and a statement that not only are we not weak but that we are still the most powerful country in the Middle East. It will reassure those countries in the region who fear the Shi’ite tide will overwhelm them that Israel remains strong and decisive.
It will give the Ayatollahs in Tehran a reminder that they live in the shadow of the Israeli bomb, not vice versa. It will give them cause to think twice the next time they tell Hezbollah, or anyone else, to launch an offensive. It will ensure Israel is dictating the course of events rather than merely reacting to them. The sad truth of the new reality within which we find ourselves is that Mutually Assured Destruction is now in play. Nuclear ambiguity should be confined to the past, replaced by fear of Israel’s capabilities.