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Emboldened Iran is still seeking nuclear capacity

Apr 18, 2024 | Colin Rubenstein

(Credit: Shutterstock)
(Credit: Shutterstock)

Daily Telegraph – 18 April 2024

 

The massive missile and drone attack Iran’s forces launched against Israel in the early morning hours of April 14 was truly a watershed event, combining the first-ever direct fire on Israel from Iran itself with attacks also from virtually every single one of the proxy armies Iran sponsors across the Middle East.

The attacks involved at least 170 drones followed by waves of 120 ballistic missiles and 30 cruise missiles. Thankfully, this multifront attack was thwarted through the unprecedented but well-planned activation of a coalition of countries – led by the US and including the UK, France, Jordan and Saudi Arabia – that, together with Israel’s own extensive missile defences, successfully shot down almost all of the incoming projectiles.

While Australia was not part of that coalition, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese joined Australia’s allies in condemning the attack. However, as this first direct Iranian attack is unlikely to be the last, and as Iranian-sponsored warfare against Israel continues, it’s crucial that Australia considers contributing more concretely to future international efforts in taking strong and coordinated action against the rogue behaviour of the regime in Tehran.

The wider implications of the unprecedented multi-fronted Iranian attack cannot be ignored.

Since seizing power in 1979, the Islamist regime has vowed to destroy Israel. To this end, it has spent countless billions on funding, supplying and training proxy terror militias, arming them to the teeth with practically every weapon imaginable.

The ballistic missiles that Iran launched from its own territory against Israel in this attack were armed with conventional warheads on this occasion, but their development went hand in hand with Tehran’s nuclear program.

The Iranian attack should therefore be a wake-up call to Australia and the world to take Iran’s threats more seriously, and its looming nuclear threat especially so. The fact that the US-led coalition to help thwart the attack included not only the UK and France, but Jordan and Saudi Arabia, highlights that many nations are drawing the appropriate lesson – namely, that Iran projecting its power under a nuclear umbrella is a nightmare scenario the entire world cannot afford.

And yet, worryingly, that is exactly the road we are currently on. In November 2022, after Iran refused to agree to return to even a shorter and weaker version of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal known as the JCPOA, US President Joe Biden told a questioner that the “[JCPOA] is dead, but we are not gonna announce it.”

Since then, Iran has escalated its nuclear violations. According to the Institute for Science and International Security, Iran’s breakout time is now zero, meaning that Iran has enough weapons-grade uranium to build a bomb within days – with the proper trigger and housing mechanisms – and assemble six weapons within 30 days.

The official atomic regulatory body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) can’t confirm these details because it has lost its ability to effectively monitor Iran’s nuclear program.  On March 4, IAEA head Raphael Grossi admitted “the agency has lost continuity of knowledge about the production and inventory of centrifuges, rotors and bellows, heavy water and uranium ore concentrate.”

When Iran threatens to destroy Israel, we must believe it. When Iran threatens the US and its allies who dare to stand in the way of its attacks on Israel, we must neither minimise these threats nor lead Iran to believe that it can launch any attack and be met by purely defensive moves – as effective as they may be. This would leave Iran’s offensive abilities unscathed and its aggressive ambitions undeterred.

Albanese said that Australia supports regional security, including Israel’s, and it is positive the Government has called in the Iranian Ambassador to demand Iranian attacks on Israel cease. However, it would be timely for Australia to forcefully condemn Iran’s pivotal support for its terrorist proxies Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis, and its quest for regional domination, as it has condemned this latest attack. We should also unequivocally convey our support for Israel’s right of self-defence against actors actively pursuing its destruction!

Indeed, given its condemnation of Iran’s flouting of international law and egregious human rights abuses, our Government should also take the steps necessary to implement the recommendations of last year’s Senate report calling for the banning of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – which launched the April 14 attacks – as a terrorist organisation.

Only by resuming pressure on Iran to stand down its nuclear weapons program, including restoring a credible threat that no measures will be off the table if Tehran does not comply, can the world prevent the world’s most dangerous regime from arming itself with the world’s most dangerous weapons.

Given Australia’s national interest in maintaining international stability, our government needs to be a full party to these international efforts.

Dr Colin Rubenstein AM is Executive Director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).

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