Libmonster ID: UK-1293
Author(s) of the publication: P. V. STEGNY


Doctor of Historical Sciences

The Iranian nuclear program (INP) is considered an existential threat in Israel. Netanyahu, like the head of the previous center-left government, E. Olmert, is convinced that the INP has a secret nuclear component that poses a direct danger to the State of Israel. At the same time, references are made to anti-Israeli statements that M. Ahmadinejad repeatedly made, including from the UN rostrum, and his denial of the Holocaust.

Regionally, Tel Aviv considers the Iranian leadership to be the main mastermind and sponsor of the "axis of evil", which includes Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Over the past decade, Israelis have been working through bilateral channels, through the UN, and through their lobbying structures in the United States and Europe to mobilize the international community against the "Iranian threat." They consider the sanctions imposed against Tehran by the UN, as well as the United States and the European Union, to be insufficient.

In this regard, since 2009, after the right-wing cabinet of Benjamin Netanyahu came to power, Israeli leaders have made a number of statements about their readiness to launch a preemptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities (better together with the United States, but if necessary, Israel will not stop before acting alone). As a justification, a parallel is drawn with the situation in Europe on the eve of World War II, while Ahmadinejad is compared to Hitler.

Consistent supporters of a forceful solution to the problem of the nuclear program (if the possibilities of political and economic pressure on Tehran are exhausted) in the Israeli leadership are Netanyahu himself and Defense Minister E. Barak. The Prime Minister's position was significantly strengthened after the opposition Kadima party led by former Chief of the General Staff Sh. Mofaz (by the way, a native of Iran) joined the government coalition in the spring of this year. Netanyahu currently has 93 seats in the Knesset (120 deputies). The arrival of Sh. Mofaz strengthened the position of the Prime Minister in the "narrow cabinet" that makes decisions on strategic issues.

Last spring, all the retired heads of the Israeli security forces spoke out against a strike on Iran "alone". Among their arguments are the lack of information about the location and cover of Iranian nuclear facilities, Israel's vulnerability to retaliatory actions from Tehran, including the possibility of rocket attacks from Gaza and from Lebanese territory controlled by Hezbollah. A serious deterrent effect is exerted by the position of the Americans (especially under Barack Obama), who believe that the possibilities of political and diplomatic influence on Iran have not yet been exhausted.

what's next?

The situation looks like a multivariate one. If you apply the usual diplomatic methodology, go through the scenarios, it is quite obvious that there are three main options for further development of events. Military action, political and diplomatic settlement, or maintaining the status quo for a longer or shorter term.

It is hardly realistic to expect a political and diplomatic settlement of the Iranian problem under the current schemes, including the "five plus one" format, in the near future. The fact is that you need to negotiate at least two tracks. Moreover, the non-proliferation track is derived from the political, even geopolitical one. And in the logic of the "Arab Spring", the political aspect of the Iranian problem boils down to whether the Shiite model will get the right to exist.

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behavior or even leadership in the Islamic world. At the same time, it is important to take into account the fact that the balance of rational (the right to a "peaceful atom") and irrational (rhetoric against Israel) in Iranian politics does not contribute to the search for compromises. Additional resources should be sought for a political settlement.

Maintaining the status quo, that is, continuing negotiations while simultaneously building up the sanctions regime (as well as other means of putting pressure on Tehran, including discrediting "Iranian expansionism" and aligning the Arabs around the Turkish Sunni model) is also a difficult task. First of all, because such a line will not suit Israel, which believes that the tactic of delaying negotiations is a way to buy time to complete Iran's covertly implemented military nuclear program.

In addition, when assessing the chances of a prolonged" proper siege " of Iran, it is necessary to take into account that recent events in the region are taking place against the background of a deepening global crisis. And it, in turn, has obvious links to the destabilization of the situation in the Middle East. After Iraq and Afghanistan, the financial issue is at the forefront of world politics. The actual self-withdrawal of the Americans from the active phase of the Libyan operation shows that they, the Europeans, and NATO are all now forced to count money.

This also applies to the oil-producing Arab countries that paid for the first and second Gulf Wars (and previously financed Iraq and Iran during the Iraq-Iran war). In general, they conducted such a time-tested, although morally flawed policy. Given the strong anti-Iranian sentiment, the Gulf States are unlikely to be inclined to make long-term financial commitments to support American plans for the democratic reconstruction of the Greater Middle East. Under the current circumstances, they are forced to buy indulgences from their own accumulated problems, launching multi-billion-dollar social programs.

Taking into account the above, unfortunately, we have to state a high probability of a military scenario, and in the foreseeable future. I don't think we all have much time to spare to prevent such a development. The Israelis are actually making it clear in plain text that if there is no progress in the "five plus one" negotiations resumed in April, they can strike at nuclear facilities in Iran. They have the military capabilities to do this.

Trying to find an effective realistic line of counteraction to such a development of events is a very difficult task. This is also because in the conditions of oversaturation of the information space with various, as a rule, contrasting forecasts, the spread of opinions regarding the degree of probability of a particular scenario will remain until the last moment. In such a situation, the temptation to rely on the common sense of the parties involved and assume that they will adequately assess the risks and behave responsibly increases objectively. But in the context of the ongoing escalation of tension (and with elements of irrational logic), it is necessary to build your actions based on the worst-case scenario. At least because then you will be guaranteed to be ready for other, milder options.

The well-balanced and proactive policy pursued by Russia at various stages of the crisis around Iran has confirmed the validity of our approaches to resolving regional crises. But now that the stakes have critically increased, it's time to move on to crisis response mode. Since the situation could be diverted from the dangerous line, in principle, by Iran's binding statement, subject to verification through the IAEA, that it has no intention of implementing a military nuclear program, then counter-steps should be considered to remove Tehran's concerns. And they seem to be connected with two main threats: the prospect of repeating the Iraqi scenario in relation to it, or forced" unbundling " on a national-ethnic basis in accordance with the recipes for the reconstruction of the Greater Middle East.

The search for compromise solutions can and should be conducted according to other schemes. The main thing is to actively look for them not at the "counter-passage", but in a dialogue with all the parties involved, first of all, with the Americans, who understand the risks of a regional conflict with a potential nuclear background better than others. In general, paradoxically, today's surging Middle East can become a convenient platform for building crisis interaction with the Obama administration.


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P. V. STEGNY, ISRAEL-IRAN STANDOFF: REGIONAL AND GLOBAL RISKS // London: British Digital Library (ELIBRARY.ORG.UK). Updated: 29.09.2023. URL: (date of access: 24.05.2024).

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