Is war between Israel and Iran inevitable?

Published: March 4, 2013

Iran is enriching Uranium only to make reactor fuel and medical isotopes, and international law allows them to do so. PHOTO: REUTERS

War drums are beating for Iran and once again, the drummer is Israel, joined by some occidental powers. The facade started last summer but was postponed due to the elections in the US and Israel.

The burning question though remains ‘is war between Israel and Iran looming’?

In an attempt to answer this question, we must look at a few different perspectives.

Israel and Western points of view

Israel sees Iran’s nuclear program as an existential threat that must be stopped by all means, including a military strike. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is convinced that Iran will be able to produce a nuclear bomb by summer 2013.

He has also set a spring 2013 deadline for other options that include an attack on Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he was ready to order a strike on Iran if international sanctions did not stop its nuclear programme.

“I am, of course, ready to press the button if necessary,” he added.

Moreover, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Iran on Sunday that Israel would never allow Iranian leaders to develop a nuclear weapon.

Pentagon’s former chief, Leon Panetta who recently described Iran as a ‘rogue state’ said the US will use all options including military force to stop Iran. Timing matters here, as the US President Barack Obama will be visiting Israel in two weeks time.

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry believes that Iran with nuclear weapons is “simply unacceptable” and warned,

“As we have repeatedly made clear, the window for a diplomatic solution simply cannot remain open forever.”

Iran perspective

Iran is enriching Uranium only to make reactor fuel and medical isotopes, and international law allows them to do so. Tehran has also assured many times that their nuclear program is peaceful.

Moreover, Iran is already under various rounds of international sanctions over its nuclear programme and insists that its atomic work is peaceful and the West must ‘pull away the gun from the face of the Iranian nation.’

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assures he won’t make a nuclear bomb,

“We do not need an atomic bomb. The Iranian nation is wise. It won’t build two atomic bombs while you have 20,000 warheads.”

However, Tehran also warned that if Israel begins the war then it will spell their destruction and that will be the end of the story.

What next?

Many experts believe that an Iranian nuclear arsenal could motivate Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region to develop a nuclear program.

The counter argument of that statement is that when North Korea went nuclear, South Korea and Japan didn’t follow.

One more argument is that a nuclear Iran will lead to escalation of animosity with Israel.

However, India and Pakistan went to war three times in 30 years before they had nuclear capability, and have not done so again in the 40 years since going nuclear.

However, Wikileaks’ revelations have shown that Gulf States including Saudi Arabia have urged the US to attack Iran.

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz urged US General David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, US ambassador to Iraq, in 2008 to take military action against Tehran’s nuclear programme and urged them to “cut off the head of the snake”.

“May God prevent us from falling victim to their evil,” said Saudi King Abdullah.

Russia, China and UN

The world has seen that Russia and China vetoed three times Libyan-style military action in Syria even if it was backed by Arab countries.

So, the UN agrees that an attack on Iran looks improbable because two veto powers (Russia and China) have close relations with Iran. Russia and China are on board as they are traditionally more lenient towards Tehran, with China a major buyer of Iranian oil and Russia having close commercial ties with Iran.

Nevertheless, Israel and the US don’t give any weight to the UN as they have already violated it many times. For example, Israel’s air strikes on Palestine and the US drone attacks.

Is war inevitable?

Political theorist Noam Chomsky insists that it would be difficult for the US to attack Iran as it has a strong military. He believes that the US is not going to attack Iran. They don’t want to attack any country unless it’s completely defenceless.

Newly appointed US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel believes in a dialogue with Iran. US politicians showed their reservation on his appointment and feared that Mr Hagel would be too lax on Iran as he was also against the war in Iraq.

Contrarily, Prime Minister Netanyahu constantly stresses that what he sees is a potential existential threat from Iran. So, the possibility of an attack by Israel is wide open.

He said he would never allow Israelis to “live in the shadow of annihilation”.

So what will happen next? Only time will tell.

Read more by Naveed here of follow him on Twitter @Nidos99

Naveed Alam

Naveed Alam

A freelance journalist, Naveed is pursuing International Journalism at Brunel University. He has also worked with Express News and he tweets as @nido99

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Nice Bloke

    “Political theorist Noam Chomsky insists that it would be difficult for the US to attack Iran as it has a strong military.”

    Noam Chomsky is a linguist not a political theorist. He has no more knowledge of the capabilities of Iran’s military than Joe Bloggs.Recommend

  • Robert

    Polls in israel show that the Israel’s only are willing to go to war if the takes the lead. It appears that the Israelis don’t guy into the “existential threat” bit that is only in Netanyahu’s deranged mind. Their is considerable opposition in Israel to an attack and all experts claim that an attack would only set back their nuclear program 1-2 years, Iranians would rally around their hated government, and Iran will be hell-bent to get a nuke to prevent another attack. There is considerable opposition to an attack from other leaders in Israel. I say that we call Netanyahu on his constant warmongering and inform him he goes it alone on Iran with no assistence from anyone else and we will see if he dares. It is at least a way to get rid of Netanyahu if things go badly. Many Americans are aware how Israel, AIPAC and its Zionist neo-cons pushed for our pre-emptive war with Iraq over alleged WMD’s and how that worked out and are not inclined to want another one.

  • Mustafa Syed

    Why U.S haven’t attacked on Iran yet?
    Why is it taking U.S and Israel to build consensus?
    Get it over with.
    Who is next after Iran and other middle east nations? China? or Russia?

    I am more afraid of North Korea at present.Recommend

  • Darren Webb-Johnson

    WORLD WAR 3 is the INSANE result of any war with IRAN.

    Firstly, the West will attack operational nuclear reactors inside Iran that will kill 10,000’s of people.This will spew radiation across the region affecting millions more with the high risk of death & illness.Southern Russia is near Iran & could easily be affected by such madness.

    Secondly, the response from devastated Iran suffering huge loses of life will be more severe than thought. Iran can easily inflict massive destruction to US & Israeli interests in the region. 100,000’s will die in Iran,Israel & elsewhere. The entire Middle East will explode into full scale war with massive scale terrorism far beyond 9/11 & global food riots erupting making cities worldwide resemble war zones due to the catastrophic collapse of the WORLD economy due to the rapid rise in the cost of OIL & stock market meltdowns.

    Thirdly, this conflict will rapidly spread around the World as chaos unprecedented happens, UN will hold panic crisis talks as Russia,China close all relations with the USA & the West. The crisis will rapidly get worse as the Middle East explodes,global terrorism & riots get worse as the next Great Depression skyrockets to new levels of global economic despair. This will then see US forces clash heavily with Chinese & Russian forces in various parts of the globe shortly before a FULL SCALE GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR erupts.

    WORLD WAR 3.

    This will be the end of mankind.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Yes, a war between Israel and Iran is possible, if one or the other miscalculates the stregnth of another;

    . Israelities were the first to commit ‘Massada’ and could take on the powerful Iran, knowing that Hizbullah commandos are now droning over Israel and ready to pounce across the border.

    . If America or Israel assume that Iran does not possess the loly pops and the delivery system, and they attack Iran with nuclear armed submarines.

    The war could widen if the peaceful straits are blocked and we have a ww3, and it is any body guess what such a scenario will entail.

    Rex Minor

    PS reminds me the 16th century Voltair, and the 21st century Grass what they said about Israel. Recommend

  • Dr,A.K.Tewari

    All nondeserving countries should be prevented to be nclear . On what parameter it will be decided is a question has to be finalised on the floor of UN . Perhaps , A process of collective security could be the answer to this intricate issue .Recommend

  • ryan

    according to all militaries (incluing US ARMY ) and experts including in israel, such an attack will make it inevitable that iran build the bomb.

    Robert gates in october 2012 :

    “such an attack would make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable. They would just bury the program deeper and make it more covert.”.

    israelies are wasting their time. IF iran decide to have the ultimate defense weapon, there is nothing they can do about that.

    The question is not between war, or a nuclear iran, if israel bomb iran, Iran is going to rain missiles from all sides on israel, and ice on the cake, it will anyway obtain nuclear weapons !Recommend

  • ryan

    it seems very likely that iran, will humiliate israel once for all..Recommend

  • Parvez

    Neither will America nor Israel attack Iran. They will build up Saudi Arabia’s nuclear capability and when they feel they no longer need the Saudis and ‘ if they deem it necessary for their economy / interests ‘ they will make sure both Muslim countries fight and destroy each other, three bird and they really won’t even have to throw a stone……….this of course is armchair theorising, in reality such events can never ever be predicted. Recommend

  • HRK

    Thankfully Chuck Hagel is the US Secretary of Defense now, who realizes that backing Israel for a war against Iran would be disastrous for US economy and its interests. Being a Vietnam War veteran he knows the costs of war, so he would be very careful in handling this. And without the proper support of the US it’ll be extremely hard for Israel to go forward with a war against a powerful country like Iran.

    Hope this war can be avoided. For the sake of humanity!Recommend

  • Khokrapar

    There cannot be a war with I-ran as long as things in Syria are not “sanitised” first.Recommend

  • naveed alam

    @Nice Bloke: Dear,
    Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, historian, political critic, and activist. List of his books on
    Understanding power, How the world works, occupy, Gaza in crisis, Hope and prospects, Democracy and education, 9/11, peace in the middle east and many debates, talks and articles written by him on politics.Recommend

  • sehar

    excellent analysis.Recommend

  • gp65

    @Darren Webb-Johnson:
    For a world war to occur there need to be countries backing both sides. Syria may have backed Iran in earlier times but clearly has no bandwidth to do so. The sunni Arabs are anyway against Shia Iran. So why would the theatre spread outside Iran? In fact Iraq was an Rab nation and yet when US attacked Iraq there was no world war.

    Having said that, I do not support a war nor do I consider it likely.Recommend

  • Something Clever

    @Darren Webb-Johnson:
    “Firstly, the West will attack operational nuclear reactors inside Iran that will kill 10,000′s of people.This will spew radiation across the region affecting millions more with the high risk of death & illness.Southern Russia is near Iran & could easily be affected by such madness.”

    I love how you imply you have superior foresight and intelligence. It’s just so superficial it’s cute. Do you think everyone but you would overlook a nuclear disaster from an attack that would spread out to harm neighboring parties who are uninvolved in a manner as big as that which can also be likened to the aftermath of chemical weapon use? If people were going to take actions like that, they’d just ditch the plan and nuke them for the sake of efficiency. I only quoted one thing but that general idea in regard to actions taken applies to nearly your whole list of predictions and I really just don’t want to bother with it because you’re not as strategically intelligent as you believe. It’s a chore to debate with people who will most certainly defend a bad theory with bad logic causing a cyclic virtual hell for any masochist taking up the cause. You leave your theories incomplete. What you are is one of those people who merely think of worst case scenarios without then checking them against supporting details to then turn it into something fit for public consumption. It should stay in your head until that point or it’s counter-productive in terms of you getting that pat on the back from people who have to listen to it.Recommend

  • p r sharma

    @Rex Minor:
    “Israelities were the first to commit ‘Massada’ and could take on the powerful Iran, knowing that Hizbullah commandos are now droning over Israel and ready to pounce across the border.”

    There won’t be war between Israel and Iran as presently practically no country is willing to support ( no even USA) the stand of Israel and without moral backing it can not proceed .against Iran
    Economic sanctions will continue and Iran shortly will be able to achieve nuclear capabilities( without an experimental blast). Iran will await the withdrawal of economic sanction to gain strength. Nuclear blast will be made at an opportune moment when it can bear the brunt of another economic sanction.)Recommend

  • Anoop

    You know I’ve never seen an article in these forums which is actually pro-Israel, say for praising it for its Democracy and its high technology and high literacy and modernisation. Its always Israel did this, Israel did that!

    Israel is hated so much that non-Democracies are praised and believed blindly.

    For the author, NSG, of which Iran is a part of, a signatory, wants Iran to put its nuclear facilities under inspection, which is done for all non-P5 countries. Iran is refusing to do that. If the intent is peaceful, why not?

    If you want to write something against Jews and/or Israel, write it. Why shoot from the shoulders of Iran?

  • Sane

    Israel is too little to attack on Iran. But, can act as proxy to USA.Recommend

  • Raza

    @Darren Webb-Johnson:
    i wish this would not happen but seems to be probable..Recommend

  • shani

    War is just around the corner.Recommend

  • shani

    Netanyahu set tone on Iran for Obama visit to IsraelRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    @p r sharma:
    If one was to observe the behaviour pattern of the Israeli leaders, they have taken more risky operations than many others in the region. Iran in my estimates has the and so has Israel. The pressure is intended to denuclearise Iran. Had Iran not the bomb, they would have come uneder military scenario much earlier. Iranians are too clever to fall for this clumsy trap.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • http://Truthhurts Truth

    No mater how you look at it lsrael is Gods chosen what will be be And Iran is so set on there on ways have to thinkRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    Both are loosers and do not reflect the spirit of the 21st century. We have so much outstanding to discover the world of galaxies and the sources of cosmic energy to tap for the benefits of future generations. Our anatomical system creates electric energy for us to function, there is no reason why we are not able to light a bulb by pointing our finger towards the bulb.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • shani

    @Rex Minor,
    I could not understand your point.Recommend

  • khan

    Alam you have portrayed a deep insight picture of the whole story.Recommend

  • Rex Minor


    it does not matter, if you did not undersand a bit of science! People want peace to progress and if there is a collective will, peace will come and not war. Ignore the bit about science which is in progress.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Sane


    All nondeserving countries should be prevented to be nclear . On what parameter it will be decided is a question has to be finalised on the floor of UN . Perhaps , A process of collective security could be the answer to this intricate issue .

    How you can define ‘nondeserving’? The countries used Nuclear Bomb to kill indiscriminately innocent people are deserving ones? Or you mean India is deserving, not others. You must note that all neighboring countries of India are in conflict with India. If ban is to be made first is India.Recommend

  • Nikolas

    @Darren Webb-Johnson:
    Despite what the alarmists say, China wouldn’t just cut off relations. Neither would Russia. The Iran conflict would be over in a matter of weeks. The U.S. and Israel would takeover quickly, China would still scare the mickey out of N. Korea, and Russia would sit tight. If the nuclear radiation did spread into Russia, reparations would likely be made at the expense of The Iranian government. Like their leader said, they wouldn’t build two warheads and risk war when we have several thousands. Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    Israel on its bullying and Terrorism as always. What a shame that muslims are not united and the gulf states urged US to take action against Iran. Shameful. If only there was Sunni Shia Unity, the Muslims would not be in so much of turmoil.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    There are key scenarios which could trigger off nuclear attacks.

    . Paranoi, the cancer form of ‘Fear’ which is now imbedded firmly in the American psyche, and is a regular partner of Israelites.

    .North Korea is following course and could start a conflict anytime which is frightening not only for the Americans but for China and Russia as well.

    . Shia Iran, which fear no one and firmly believe in the almighty God, and have the endurance to resist and the ability for creativity, innovation and improviation. Besides they must have the weapons and both USA and Israel know it. They will never initiate the attack, a nuclear or a conventional unless attacked.

    Both European and Asian continents will face nuclear contamination.

    Rex Minor


  • Burjor

    Iranians and Israel’s are both very sensible people. Both nations have suffered tremendously, out of proportions for their populations, they know, that there will be no winners, there will be only be destruction and suffering for a long period of time. Recommend

  • A. Jann

    Generally politician’s declarations are “Political declarations” to ameliorate their stands. Not at this case. To understand why this case is different one has to understand Israeli history and psychology. History teaches us that when Israel pushed too tight to the corner they pulled out surprises. Just remember that they already attack Iraq at the similar situation and they invaded to many foreign countries to terminate opposes and”terrorists”. In my opinion Israeli attack on Iran is very realistic and maybe inevitable, even if it looks like suicidal.Recommend