In an attempt to extract lessons for Iran from the Hamas-Israel conflict, the country’s strategic and military thinkers are coming to conclusions that might be worrisome for the rest of the world. Seemingly basing their thinking on a far-right Israeli cabinet member’s inadvertent acknowledgment that Israel had the bomb and could use it against Palestinians, these thinkers in Iran are showing greater openness to their country’s outright pursuit of nuclear capability with military applications (Daily Summary of 7 November 2023: “Hardliners Heighten Focus on Nuclear Deterrence amid Gaza Crisis”).
Emad Abshenas, a frequent contributor to the Persian service of Russia’s Sputnik News, takes the silence of European officials in the face of the threat by the Israeli minister as a starting point to argue that no Western government or any of its allies is going to stand in Israel’s way. Considering that current Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to attack Iran militarily, muses Abshenas, Iran would be in grave danger of a nuclear attack from the Jewish state if a “madman” came to power there. Iran has exercised great restraint so far, he declares, and shown “nobility” in not pursuing a bomb, but in the current global “jungle,” it falls on each nation to protect itself. Thus, there is no logical reason for Iran to limit its nuclear program, since Israel has “automatically” given it the right.
Considering the symbolism of the calendar in the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is no surprise that such views are being aired roughly three years after the 27 November 2020 assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, “Iran’s Oppenheimer”—an action almost universally attributed to Israel. After all, Netanyahu had put Fakhrizadeh on prominent display in 2018 in his denunciation of Iran’s nuclear pursuits, telling everyone to “Remember that name.” In his laudatory remembrance of Fakhrizadeh, army man Amir Hatami, who served as minister of defense under Hasan Rouhani and now advises the supreme leader on military issues, also takes note of the fact that Israel faces no deterrent in its “war crimes” against the people of Gaza. Interestingly, as with his eulogy on Farkhrizadeh three years earlier, Hatami chose to highlight the nuclear scientist’s supposed contributions to the COVID vaccine over his other work (Daily Summary of 28 November 2020: “Fallout from Assassination of Father of Iran’s Nuclear, Missile Programs”). Nonetheless, the clear message seems to be that Iran needs something more than it already has to discourage military attack by its enemies. The hardline Vatan-e Emruz, for instance, notes that possession of a nuclear weapon by Iran robs Israel of its nuclear deterrence capabilities, thereby weakening it. According to the outlet, the weakening of Israel has already occurred, but such rhetoric does not necessarily mean that Iran already has the bomb.