Co-authored by Daniel C. Kurtzer and Aaron David Miller
Israel and Iran aren’t yet on the verge of a major escalation or war, and continued progress on the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna would likely forestall one, if Israel judges that trying to undermine a deal would exact too great a cost in its relations with Washington. But the factors that might well produce a significant blowup are now aligning in frightening fashion.
An April 11 explosion at the Natanz nuclear facility—presumed to be the work of Israel—was a dramatic salvo in the shadow war over Iran’s nuclear program. In response to the attack, Iran ramped up its enrichment capacity. An errant Syrian missile landed near Dimona in Israel on April 22, and Israel struck back at the launch site in Syria. Such chains of events risk escalating, even unintentionally, to open conflict.
The Biden administration, understandably preoccupied with the politics of domestic recovery, has expressed its intention to reenter the 2015 Iran nuclear deal but appears to be in no particular hurry to do so. Yet without intensified U.S. diplomacy designed to restrain both Israel and Iran, the administration could easily find itself drawn into a conflict it neither wants nor needs and that undermines its real priorities at home.
Read the full article in Foreign Affairs.