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Hamas Attack ‘Weapon of Mass Distraction’ as Iran Goes Nuclear

March 21, 2024

by: Yaakov Lappin ~ JNS

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The damage after a rocket fired from Lebanon hit a building in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona

Thursday, 21 March 2024 | Israel needs to be prepared for the possibility of conducting high-intensity strikes on Hezbollah in Lebanon and on Iran’s nuclear program simultaneously, a former senior Israeli defense official told JNS in recent days.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Professor Jacob Nagel, former acting national security adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and ex-head of Israel’s National Security Council, is currently a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a professor at the Technion‒Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. Nagel raised the possibility of a multi-staged Iranian strategy to go nuclear, involving regional proxies keeping Israel and the world distracted with conflicts.

Iran may have activated a “weapon of mass distraction” to make progress on building weapons of mass destruction, its nuclear program,” said Nagel. He said the possibility of a long-term Iranian plan—with a secret timetable and multiple stages—must be taken seriously.

The first stage of such a plan begins with the mass-murder attack launched on October 7 against southern Israel by Hamas in Gaza, which, even though it likely occurred without prior coordination with Iran on its timing, still serves Iran’s interests and could not have happened without Iranian support for Hamas.

Hezbollah entered the conflict from Lebanon with attacks on northern Israel in a lower-intensity but steady manner, starting on October 8.

In the second stage of the potential plan, Nagel said, Israel begins “treading water” in Gaza, and the international community becomes involved in responding to Iran’s proxies, particularly the Houthis. At the same time, Hezbollah maintains its involvement in a low-intensity manner.

In a future possible third stage, Hezbollah becomes involved in full-scale war, and in a potential fourth stage, Iran—taking advantage of the distraction—races ahead in its nuclear program.

“This scenario cannot be ruled out,” said Nagel.

‘This is Our Fight’

According to a report released by Reuters on March 15, Hezbollah told its Iranian patron recently that it would fight any future full-scale war with Israel alone.

The report noted that the head of Iran’s Quds Force, Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghaani, who oversees Iranian support for proxies, visited Beirut in February to “discuss the risk posed if Israel next aims at Lebanon’s Hezbollah.”

“The conversation turned to the possibility of a full Israeli offensive to its north, in Lebanon,” the report said, citing unnamed Iranian sources, adding that Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah “reassured Ghaani he didn’t want Iran to get sucked into a war with Israel or the US and that Hezbollah would fight on its own.”

“This is our fight,” Nasrallah reportedly told Ghaani.

“The events that have occurred so far do not disprove the idea that Iran has a multi-stage plan,” said Nagel. “I think today we are at the stage where Iran is developing the components of the ‘weapons group’ in the nuclear program,” he added, in reference to the work that needs to occur alongside uranium enrichment in order to assemble nuclear warheads.

He stated there is constant gradual progress being made by multiple Iranian teams, enriching uranium and creating the necessary components and systems for nuclear bombs. These teams “are doing what they can without being caught with a smoking gun in their hand,” he said.

“Israel has to prepare—as it has prepared all of these past years—to strike the nuclear program,” stressed Nagel. “If it were not for Israeli activities, Iran would have long ago become a nuclear state. Many do not understand this.”

Iran has already completed the longest part of the uranium enrichment process, Nagel stressed, referring to the enrichment of 20% and 60% uranium. “The big majority of the time needed to reach military-grade (90%) uranium is spent reaching those two enrichment levels of 20 and 60,” he said. “Little time is needed to subsequently, from there, reach 90% enrichment level—the military-grade,” he cautioned.

‘Strike the Weapons System Part of It’

On March 7, the National reported that Britain, France and Germany told the board of the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran had installed more advanced centrifuges and “laid ground for a further expansion” of its ability to enrich uranium.

“Iran’s overall stockpile has grown by 30%,” the statement said, “although Iran appeared to have down blended some of its stock of 60% uranium to 20%,” according to the report.

On March 15, Washington reissued a US $10 billion Iran sanctions waiver that allows Iran access to revenue from its electricity sales to Iraq.

“Hence, Israel must be ready for anything. For being able to strike the enrichment part of the program, but also for being able to strike the weapons system part of it,” said Nagel.

“Israel must build munitions capabilities, mainly artillery and tank shells, and Israel must be ready to work in more than one arena. Because of what is occurring in the south, the timing of war with Hezbollah could change,” he added.

‘Falling Into a Trap’

On March 2, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies [FDD] published an assessment co-written by Nagel and Mark Dubowitz, FDD’s chief executive and an expert on Iran’s nuclear program and sanctions.

In the assessment, Nagel and Dubowitz wrote that Israel “risks falling into a trap set by Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. In supporting Hamas’s brutal attack on October 7 and keeping multiple Israeli military battalions engaged in the north and in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], Khamenei has unleashed a weapon of ‘mass distraction’ that is consuming the attention of Israel’s military, intelligence and political establishment. This fits neatly into the supreme leader’s strategy of advancing his atomic weapon of mass destruction.”

Meanwhile, Russia recently set up military positions in southern Syria near Israel. While Nagel doubted that Moscow posed any current operational threat to Israel, he added that Jerusalem must be cautious about future potential Russian assistance to Iran’s nuclear program, which could be given as repayment for the Iranian supply of unmanned aerial vehicles and missiles to Russia’s war effort against Ukraine.

“I hope the Russians do not do this, but it can happen,” said Nagel. “We are talking about knowledge in the nuclear field.”

Posted on March 21, 2024

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 20, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: David Cohen/Flash90/