Diplomacy is nice, and it still may bring a solution for the growing nuclear threat from Iran, but Israel is not putting all their eggs in that basket. As the Islamic Republic continues to stall talks with the West, Israel is preparing for military action and possibly war, according to remarks made Sunday by Israel Defense Force Major General Tal Kalman.
In the first-ever interview with Bahraini newspaper al-Ayam, General Kalman said Israel would prefer a diplomatic solution but is “preparing for other solutions” to stop Tehran’s growing nuclear ambitions.
A nuclear Iran would not only be a threat to Israel’s existence, but to the entire world, Kalman said. “There would be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East because other countries would also want to obtain an atomic weapon.”
It is long supposed, but not openly confirmed, that Israel possesses the only nuclear arms in the Middle East as a deterrent against hostile neighbors, such as Iran.
Since the summer, world powers have been trying to get Iran and the US back to the negotiating table. However, Iran continues to stall, saying they will enter into talks by the end of this month. Meanwhile, sources say they have enriched uranium almost to the weapons-grade level.
“We still believe in the need for a diplomatic solution, and we believe that with the correct moves, which must be rigid—some of which have not yet been tried and some of which are diplomatic efforts—it is possible to return Iran to the negotiating table,” Kalman said.
Kalman heads the IDF’s Strategy and Third-Circle Directorate, a section created last year to formulate Israel’s response to the threats posed by Iran. First circle threats are those closest to home—such as Hamas in Gaza. The second circle encompasses threats from Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies.
“Part of my job is building Israeli plans and capabilities for a conflict with Iran. We don’t want conflict. We don’t want war. We want to resolve this issue diplomatically. But when you have in front of you a side that is aggressive, which is building military capabilities, we have to be preparing for other scenarios.”
Kalman was thankful that Israel has a few friendly neighbors now, unlike in the past, thanks to the Abraham Accords. The “new Middle East” now is a place where Israel has favorable ties with not only long-standing allies, Jordan and Egypt, but also Bahrain, the Emirates, Morocco, and others.
“If in the past, Israel relied on the principle that we must defend ourselves by ourselves, now we have changed our strategy in order to cooperate with our partners because we have partners in the region.”