Most of what IDF intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva said on Monday was already known. Iran is slowly but surely moving along the path of increasing uranium enrichment while constantly testing the West’s containment efforts. This includes the ongoing deliberations in Iran on whether to reach weapons-grade purity of 90%. All the while, Iran continues to tease the West about seeking a return to the 2015 nuclear deal.
But Haliva did offer some new insights. He said Iran already has enough enriched uranium for four nuclear bombs, and that it might perpetrate terrorist attacks in the U.K. and the U.S.
He also hinted, yet again, that Israel could one day launch a strike on Iran, and noted that IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi’s visit to the U.S. was crucial for making sure there is no daylight on this issue. However, it appears that what he was actually implying was that Israel could go it alone if its security demands are not met. To be more precise, he was sending the West the following message: Reach a better nuclear deal that would truly curtail Iran’s activities or else.
This was not unlike previous messages from Israel’s security and political echelons over the past several months, which have had very limited success.
Haliva also presented his assessments regarding the ongoing popular unrest in Iran. Although Israeli intelligence has not had a stellar track record in recent decades when it comes to understanding social undercurrents in the region and in Iran in particular, listening to Haliva you could get the sense that his organization has been right on the mark this time, both in terms of a sober assessment of the domestic situation in Iran and in its cautious approach to the situation.
It’s interesting that Israeli military intelligence has called the popular demonstration a “civilian insurrection,” which has been clearly evident in the number of killed and detained and the attacks on state institutions. It appears that the regime is truly concerned over the extended protest, but at this point, there is no real threat to its survival, and the regime has refused to buckle under the daily pressure despite the damage it has suffered to its image.
A milestone was reached in the protest on Monday when Iran’s national team refused to sing the Islamic republic’s anthem at the start of the FIFA World Cup match against England. This was a brave move on their part as social influencers, having chosen to do this on the world’s most-watched event that was also broadcast live in Iran, knowing full well that they could be subject to retaliation upon returning (especially since they lost 6-2). Perhaps it shows that the young are no longer in a state of fear in Iran, but regime change is still far off.
Israel wants to cast the ayatollahs as a threat to the world’s security, citing the Iranian nuclear program, terrorism and arming rogue states. But it looks like the real fight against Iran is not over security but over its domestic future. Israel would be well-served by not overtly meddling so that it does not harm what has been naturally unfolding and jeopardize the protesters’ chances of success.