The Center for Security Policy hosted a webinar on October 25th featuring Brigadier Generals (ret.) Yusef Kupperwasser and Amir Avivi of the Israeli Defense Forces to discuss Israel’s offensive military capabilities in light of Iran’s accelerating nuclear program. The webinar was moderated by CSP’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa Victoria Coates and Senior Fellow Ellie Cohanim.
The Center for Security Policy hosted a webinar on October 25th featuring Brigadier Generals (ret.) Yusef Kupperwasser and Amir Avivi of the Israeli Defense …
“The main lesson learned from the holocaust is that the Jewish people need to defend themselves, this is the essence of Zionism,” said General Avivi. “We believe that the stronger and more capable we are to defend ourselves, the better chances we have to forge alliances like the U.S. who want to partner with us.”
In response to a question about what a nuclear weapon would mean to the broader Middle East, General Kupperwasser declared, “You have to look at it from two angles. The first angle is that if Iran manages to have even the capability to produce nuclear weapons, this would be considered a major achievement of the radical camp in the Middle East. This would mean that despite all the sanctions, all the threats, they managed to get what they want and become the hegemonic power they strive to be in the Middle East. The mission of this regime is to spread their version of Islam across the world, and the Middle East is just the first stop along the way. Secondly, it will ignite a much larger arms race in the Middle East. What about Saudi Arabia or Algeria or anyone else who wants to have a nuclear weapon? Is the United States going to say to them, ‘You can’t but Iran can’? This is very dangerous. So, we cannot afford a world where the Iranian regime can have a nuclear weapon.”
How challenging will it be to establish deterrence post Afghanistan?
In terms of America’s ability to establish deterrence against Iran after the fall of Afghanistan, General Avivi observed, “It will be much more challenging than before. Much of the situation is based on perceptions, not just judging based on the capabilities of each side.” He went on, “The Taliban won because they had spirit. If the West doesn’t have the spirit to fight, then we have won the radicals would argue. The West has to prove they have the spirit to fight. The phrasing and the negotiations with Iran doesn’t seem to project this spirit.”
Both General Avivi and General Kupperwasser emphasized that simply saying Iran should not possess a nuclear weapon was not enough—Iran cannot have the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. General Avivi said, “If the Iranians managed to get enough material to produce a nuclear device this would mean Iran had the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. The 2018 archive clarified that we did not know everything. The truth was that they were making a lot of progress we were not aware of. The way to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons is to prevent Iran from having the capability to produce nuclear weapons.
General Kupperwasser added, “We understand this regime is radical regime that wants to be a world power and that they are determined to have nuclear weapons. This is the biggest strategic plan they have and the moment they have the capability, they will do it.”