Fears of increased tensions were voiced at the Beersheba Dialogue earlier this month, the annual conference held between ASPI (Australian Strategic Policy Institute) and the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. Former head of Israeli intelligence organisation Mossad, Haim Tomer, told The Strategist that US foreign policy has shifted the balance of power in the Middle East in Russia and Iran’s favour, sparking fears that Israel could be vulnerable.

He said: “The world has been witnessing some sort of dramatic change in American foreign policy, which at least means … that Israel should consider very carefully what would be the US role in future frictions and confrontations within this neighbourhood.

“Israel could not take for granted anymore that the Iranians would be deterred by the fact that if they attack Israel, the US will do something to them as well – not only that Israel will retaliate, but Israel and the US.”

Iran is a close partner to Russia, with President Vladimir Putin becoming the power broker in the Middle East after Mr Trump’s withdrawal of US troops from northeast Syria.

In his interview with The Strategist, Tomer expressed how Kremlin dominance in the region does not pose a direct threat, but that Putin is ultimately only in the region for self interest.

He writes: “Putin is a very cold-blooded player whose aim is to get Russia in a position that it’s the number one foreign player in the region. And he’s very near to that, he’s very near to achieving that.”

The threat to Israel remains Iran’s renewed nuclear capabilities after the 2015 nuclear deal was abandoned after President Trump accused Tehran of breaking the conditions of the deal.

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Iran has begun enriching uranium and injecting it into centrifuges that had previously been empty under the nuclear deal.

The US has accused the Islamic Republic of gradually increasing its uranium production in a move that disobeyed the agreement.

As of now, Iran is enriching uranium up to 4.5 percent, in violation of the accord’s limit of 3.67 percent.

As the deal fell apart, Trump placed crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy meaning Rouhani could not capitalise on Iran’s wealth of oil.

With Iran President Hassan Rouhani pressing on with nuclear weapons development, Israel could be on the verge of serious political hostility, as embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously stated he “wouldn’t accept” this scenario.

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Emily Landau, the head of arms control and regional security at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, told The Strategist: “If there are clear indications that Iran is really close to a nuclear weapons capability, Israel will have to take things into its own hands.”

Mr Netanyahu has previously been animated in his criticism of Iran. In September he alleged that Iran had developed nuclear weapons at a secret site in the city of Abadeh, but also claimed it had been abandoned after Tehran discovered their cover was blown.

While referring to aerial imagery of the site, Mr Netanyahu said: “I call on the international community to wake up, to realize that Iran is systematically lying.

“The only way to stop Iran’s march to the bomb, and its aggression in the region, is pressure, pressure and more pressure.”

source: express.co.uk


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