Would a military strike against Iran stop its nuclear program?

JPost One-on-One Zoomcast , Episode 47: Anna Ahronheim with Dr. Raz Zimmt, Iran expert, Institute for National Security Studies

Anna Ahronheim

“It’s a matter of delaying the program, not to destroy it but to delay it as long as possible,” said Dr. Raz Zimmt, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies specializing in Iran.

The Jerusalem Post spoke with Zimmt as both the Americans and European diplomats have warned that negotiations around Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna are “rapidly reaching the end of the road.”

View previous Zoomcast: Will Abraham Accords lead to a whole new era in the Middle East? >>

And with Israel pessimistic about any outcome from the nuclear talks, alongside the diplomatic campaign, Israel’s defense establishment is gearing up for a worst-case scenario including a military option against the Islamic Republic.

“When we speak of a military option, there are different issues that need to be taken into consideration,” Zimmt said. “Can Israel carry it out alone? In my view at this stage, I don’t think there is an Israeli option that can be carried out tomorrow morning.”

Along with needing to take into consideration the political-strategic picture and whether or not the Americans will greenlight the strike or forbid Israel from carrying it out, 

“How long will the option be effective? Will an Israeli military strike delay Iran’s nuclear program by between 1-2yrs, that’s another question because, unlike Syria and Iraq where both had nuclear programs attacked by Israel, the nuclear program in Iran is totally different. They have the knowledge and technology,” Zimmt said, adding that “even if Israel succeeds in attacking nuclear facilities it is only a matter of time before they are able to rehabilitate their capabilities.”

While Iran has other strategic capabilities such as unmanned aerial vehicles and ballistic missiles, “none of them pose any possible existential threat to the State of Israel” like its nuclear program, Zimmt said.

Along with the considerations Israel needs to take into account should it decide to carry out a strike, it must be aware of the retaliation that will likely be carried out by Hezbollah and other proxies.

“The number one threat following an Israeli attack will be a response by Hezbollah and their missile arsenal,” Zimmt warned.

“If Israel attacks and Iran asks Hezbollah to retaliate, it is very unlikely that they will say no.”