What happened: This morning’s front page of the Tehran Times published a map of Israel covered with pin locations suggesting targets of rocket attacks.
- The headline warned, “Just one wrong move!” According to the article, “an intensification of the Israeli military threats against Iran seems to suggest that the Zionist regime has forgotten that Iran is more than capable of hitting them from anywhere”.
- The paper quotes Major General Mohammad Bagheri, the Chief of General Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces, who said yesterday: “Despite our confidence in the deterrence situation of the country, our forces have never underestimated the threat of the enemy and are prepared for the smallest of threats in the strategic field.”
- In conclusion the article quotes Ayatollah Khamenei from in 2013, saying: “Sometimes the leaders of the Zionist regime even threaten us; they are threatening to strike militarily, but I think they know it, and if they do not know it, they must know that if they make a mistake, the Islamic Republic will destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa.”
- Meanwhile, other Iranian sources reported yesterday that Iran has transferred an air defence systems to the Kermanshah Mountains, in the west of Iran, where Iran’s ballistic missile launch sites are located.
- Iranian National Security Council is apparently on “high alert, dealing with Israel’s threats”.
- The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Air Force, Amir Hajizadeh, visited the Kermanshah province to inspect the air defences’ readiness. The high alert was raised due to the Iranian perception of an Israeli attack on nuclear facilities if the nuclear talks in Vienna falter.
Context: Iran’s belligerent stance coincides with lack of progress at the nuclear talks in Vienna.
- Yesterday, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi discussed Iran’s behaviour in an interview to AP. He warned: “If the international community through us, through the IAEA, is not seeing clearly how many centrifuges or what is the capacity that they may have … what you have is a very blurred image … it will give you the illusion of the real image. But not the real image. This is why this is so important.”
- He related to Iran enriching uranium up to 60 per cent purity, a short technical step from weapons-grade levels of 90 per cent. Grossi said, “There’s no other country other than those making nuclear weapons reaching those high levels … I’ve said many times that this doesn’t mean that Iran has a nuclear weapon. But it does mean that this level of enrichment is one that requires an intense verification effort.”
- Grossi was also asked his impression of the new government under President Raisi. He commented that “the change is palpable,” and described cooperation as “slower than expected”.
- According to Israel Hayom this morning, the IDF has redefined its “red line” regarding Iran’s nuclear capability to align itself with the US approach. Until now Israel defined its red line when “Iran has enough military-grade enriched uranium for a single bomb. Now Israel has adopted the US position, which defines the red line as Iranian progress in the development of the other components needed to build a bomb, including the detonation device and, of course the ballistic missiles needed to deliver the bomb.”
- According to the report, the prevailing assessment among Israeli officials is that it will take the Iranians between 18 and 24 months to achieve that fuller capability, whereas it will only take a few weeks to amass a sufficient quantity of fissile material for a single bomb.
Looking ahead: Next week the US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will visit Israel. He is expected to meet Prime Minister Bennett, Defence Minister Gantz and Foreign Minister Lapid. The talks will focus on Iran’s nuclear programme.
- Iran is in the process of passing a new budget. In the draft bill, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard budget will increase by 2.4 times next year. In addition, the Iranian government also announced that £3.8bn worth of crude oil will be put at the disposal of the military.