April 14th and the Dangers of Nuclear Iran

In the early morning hours of April 14th, a remarkable and historic event occurred.

A coalition of nations led the by the United States and Israel engaged in aerial combat against some 300 projectiles fired by the Iranian regime against Israel. The projectiles included sophisticated drones – the same ones Russia has been pummeling Ukraine with – cruise and ballistic missiles. The coalition, along with Israel’s anti-missile defenses, managed to intercept 99 percent of the incoming attack, preventing what could have been a catastrophic event with dozens or hundreds of Israeli casualties.

What made this event particularly remarkable was that the coalition included not just Israel and the US, but also Jordan, France, and the UK. There are even reports that the Saudis, the UAE and other Arab states provided intelligence and other assistance to Israel.

Compare the events of April 14th with the 1991 Gulf War, where Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi military fired over 40 Scud missiles at Israeli cities. Israel’s air defenses were limited to American Patriot missiles, which only had about 40-50 percent success rate in intercepting the Scuds, rendering the Jewish State unable to effectively counter Iraq’s unprovoked attacks against Israel.

Thirty-three years later, there is a new geopolitical reality in the Middle East. Much has been written about the changing nature of the region, particularly as it relates to the Arab states’ attitudes towards Israel.

Yet, in many ways, the ultimate test of that change is how it plays out when it comes to security matters. The events of both Oct. 7th and April 14th are perhaps the first significant public displays of that shift, and what it portends for the future of regional security.

Regarding Oct. 7th, despite the public criticism against Israel regarding its Gaza operation, Israel’s Arab neighbors have not closed off engagement with the Jewish State. The US deserves a lot of credit for this, as successive Administrations have worked diligently to bring Israel and its Arab neighbors closer on security related matters, especially those related to the Islamic Republic of Iran and Islamist terrorism.

In addition to US efforts, the Egyptians, Jordanians, Saudis, Emiratis and others recognize the threat Hamas and others pose to their own countries and the broader region. And those governments, despite what they may say in public, have proven to be willing to work with Israel and the US to stand up to that danger.

The same can be said about their approach to Iran. For years, the Iranian regime has been at the precipice of attaining nuclear capability while simultaneously developing intercontinental ballistic missiles. It has threatened to use those against Israel, all while spewing violent antisemitism.

Some in the international community took those threats seriously, and employed a combination of negotiations – including the 2015 Iran deal- sanctions, and other counter tactics. Yet there were others who brushed those threats aside, claiming Iran’s missile program was just posturing to hedge against an Israeli attack. Many of those same voices have been similarly dismissive of the dangers posed by a nuclear armed Iran.

Israel and its Arab neighbors never bought into that argument, and indeed the Iranian regime’s firing of over 100 ballistic missiles at Israel disproved Tehran’s appeasers.

If those voices were wrong about the ballistic missiles, they may very well be wrong about the chances of Iran deploying a nuclear weapon.

The Israelis, Jordanians, Saudis, Emiratis, Bahrainis and others understand this better than most. They share a neighborhood with Iran and routinely encounter threats and violence from Tehran’s proxies, including Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and pro-Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq. The Iranian regime openly spreads its extremist, violent ideology threatening regional and global stability. If Iran indeed acquired a nuclear bomb, that would greatly strengthen their hand and allow them to continue spreading their destructive worldview.

This all speaks to the need for the US and the international community to refocus its energies on countering threats from the Iranian regime.

In recent years, Iran has been allowed to develop sophisticated weaponry that undermines the stability of the Middle East and is being used by Russia to attack our ally Ukraine. That is not ok.

It continues to arm, train and fund Hamas, Hezbollah and Houthis, while some in the international community debate whether or not to designate those violent groups as terrorists or mere political actors. That too is not ok.

And, as they are on the cusp of nuclear capability, Iranian officials “negotiate” over enrichment levels while regime leaders engage in Holocaust denial and speak giddily about annihilating the Jewish State. How is that acceptable?

When Israel’s Arab neighbors – standing with them shoulder to shoulder, F15 to F15, against the Iranian regime — are warning about the dangers they pose to global security, more governments should take notice.

If April 14th taught us anything, it is that the Iranian regime cannot, under any circumstances, be trusted, especially when it comes to having nuclear capabilities. If they are allowed to go down that path, the next time Iran decides to attack Israel or one of its neighbors, the result could very well prove much, much more deadly.

About the Author
Shaya Lerner is the Director of Israel Affairs at the Anti-Defamation League.
Related Topics
Related Posts