- Iran has become passive when dealing with attacks by the US and Israel.
- The country has suffered suspected sabotage attacks.
- Democratic candidate Joe Biden is likely to put less pressure on Iran if he becomes president.
Iran has been toning down its war rhetoric in recent weeks, even in the face of an increasingly hostile archenemy, Israel. The recent destruction of sites crucial to Iranian nuclear program by suspected Israeli operatives caused a stir, but the Iranian administration was keen to downplay the incidents.
About the Covert Attacks
Experts contend that the Israelis have been involved in a series of covert offensive operations targeting Iranian nuclear facilities in recent weeks, with the most notable target being the Natanz nuclear site. It suffered substantial damage after a suspected attack earlier this month.
The Iranian government downplayed the incident as a minor fire at the facility. Aerial photographs of the site, however, revealed extensive damage. The sabotage incident set back the Iranian uranium enrichment program by more than two years.
Other sites that have been targeted since June 26 include a ballistic missile liquid fuel production site in Prachin, and a power plant situated in Shiraz.
A group calling itself the Cheetahs of the Homeland claimed responsibility for the Natanz attack. It claimed to be comprised of dissidents within the Iranian military ranks. Experts, however, believe that the assertion is a smokescreen. There is speculation that the unit is in fact, an Israeli government-funded cyberattack outfit.
Its name, Cheetahs of the Homeland, seems deliberately similar to those used by Iranian cyberattack groups, such as Persian Cat, and Charming Kitten. These are allegedly backed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Cyber Army. It is likely that the Cheetahs of the Homeland cyberattack unit was created to counter the Persian Cat.
Both the Israeli and US governments view Iran’s nuclear program as a threat that should be stamped out. It is likely that cyberattack units from the two nations collaborated during the most recent sabotage campaign.
Just a few weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the US to impose more sanctions on Iran in order to stop the advancement of its nuclear program. “I believe it’s time to implement snapback sanctions. I don’t think we can afford to wait. We should not wait for Iran to start its breakout to a nuclear weapon, because then it will be too late for sanctions,” he said.
Netanyahu also warned Iran about furthering its nuclear program ambitions, stating, “Israel will continue to take the actions necessary to prevent you from creating another terror and military front against Israel in Syria. I say to [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad, ‘You’re risking the future of your country and your regime.’”
A Change in Political Leadership
Despite the current setbacks, the Iranian regime seems surprisingly resilient. The leadership has been keen to ignore the most recent incidences that fall short of war. This is likely because there is an increasing likelihood that US government leadership will change following the November elections.
President Donald Trump’s popularity seems to be waning due to his lackluster handling of the coronavirus crisis and the Black Lives Matter protests. As such, Iran may be keen to refrain from any confrontations with Israel or the US in anticipation of a Joe Biden win. The Democratic candidate is more likely to be sympathetic to the nation’s course.
If he becomes president, Biden will have the power to lift the sanctions on Iran by executive order.