Why the War in Gaza Makes a ‘Nuclear’ Iran More Likely

The Conflict Has Empowered Tehran—but Also Fueled Its Sense of Vulnerability“.

Ali Vaez writes in the Foreign Affairs magazine: Since the start of the war in the Gaza Strip, Iran’s government has sounded bullish, even triumphalist notes. “The Zionist regime’s defeat in this event is not just the defeat of the Zionist regime,” contended Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in a speech last month, referencing Israeli setbacks on the battlefield. “It is also the defeat of the U.S.” At the beginning of January, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi boasted that his country’s enemies “can see Iran’s power, and the whole world knows its strength and capabilities.” And a few days later, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson declared that the so-called axis of resistance—the network of partners and proxies Iran backs across the region—is more “coherent, resilient and united than ever.” 

It is easy to see why Tehran seems pleased. The war has bogged down its chief regional foe, Israel, in a protracted and perhaps unwinnable conflict. And it has forced Iran’s main global adversary, the United States, to focus on preventing that conflict from escalating, even as it fights off threats from Iran’s allied militias. 

Yet for Tehran, the ongoing conflict may not end in anything like the clear-cut victory it has already claimed. Iran wants to be the Middle East’s dominant power, but it has not been willing to capitalize on the war in Gaza by having the axis of resistance open major new fronts against Israel or the United States. Hezbollah—Tehran’s most capable ally—has lobbed missiles at Israel, but it has not sparked an all-out war on the country’s northern border. The Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen have repeatedly menaced international shipping and targeted Israel with their missiles and drones, but these attacks have done little to pull Israel out of Gaza. The overall message is clear: Iran can cause chaos, but it is not strong enough to go on a real offensive. It still needs its regional allies primarily to defend its own territory. Tehran may therefore conclude that this conflict has made it look weaker rather than stronger. It may, accordingly, feel more vulnerable…

Last paragraph: Restarting talks will not be popular or easy in key Western capitals, where Iran is understandably more reviled than it has been in decades. It may also be hard to sell in Tehran, where policymakers are increasingly adversarial. But an atomic Iran could make an already volatile region a whole lot more explosive, and even if the odds are long, the West should still push Tehran to use its nuclear program as leverage at the negotiating table—rather than as a deterrent on the battlefield. As a 1970s antinuclear slogan put it: Better active today than radioactive tomorrow. Read the whole opinion piece.

Irshad Salim of despardes.com asked few analysts/observers to comment on the above opinion piece:

A senior Gulf analyst

Saw this a few days ago. States “go nuclear” for very specific, security-related reasons. The USA began its Manhattan Project after learning that Germany was moving in that direction. When the Cold War began in 1946, and the USA was the only nuclear-armed power, the USSR launched its own program. The USA threatened the PRC (Peoples Republic of China( with nuke attacks three times in the 1950s, driving China’s nuclear program. India chased China and Pakistan chased India in the same race. Israel’s nuclear and missile capabilities, aided and abetted by the USA, have driven Iran’s nuclear program. This particular dyad -US-Israeli ability and willingness to ignore world opinion (except several US allies who voted with them in UN votes) and conduct such a devastating military campaign that has taken 25,000 lives and counting- must logically put pressure on Tehran to build its own deterrent capability. Tehran must recall the fate of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi and ensure its Ayatollahs don’t suffer the same fate.

Dr. Ali, an author and geopolitical analyst based in London & Malaysia.

They (Iran) have already crossed the threshold of making basic Uranium-based warheads, with enough fissile material to make probably 5 warheads. (Therefore) Nuclear Iran is a given; how to handle it is the real question. Given Iran’s ideological ambitions and recent belligerent behavior (Missile strikes in Syria, Iraq & Pakistan), a nuclear Iran will be a nightmare and a headache for the international community in general, and for its immediate neighborhood in particular. Pakistan should tighten its seat belt.

A senior Pakistani military official who did not want to be named, as he’s not authorized to comment officially.

It might sound ironic, but Iran is the biggest strategic beneficiary of the Israeli war on Gaza. Iran is already an undeclared, a “screw away” Nuclear power. This opinion piece is (thus) in the category of a moot point.

Amb. Gholam Rasool Baloch, a foreign affairs commentator, analyst.