The DEFCON Warning System™

Ongoing GeoIntel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.  DEFCON Level assessment issued for public notification.  Established 1984.

Iran/Israel Conflict – What’s Next

On April 13, 2024, Iran launched an attack from its own territory against Israel in retaliation for Israel’s bombing of an Iranian embassy.[1]  This in response to attacks by Iran proxies and military for attacks against Israel.  This in response…this in response, etc., etc.

What made this attack different was that this was the first time Iran fired missiles into Israel from Iran itself.[2]

Over three hundred drones and missiles were launched by Iran against Israel.  It was an unprecedented attack not only for its brazenness, but also for its complete ineffectiveness!  Somewhere around 99% of the salvo was intercepted and shot down.[3]  Not only did Israel’s defenses work in spectacularly effective manner, but the United States, the United Kingdom, and Jordon participated in shooting down Iran’s attack[4], though it is likely Jordon was more interested in Iran’s violation of its air space rather than any love for the Jewish State.

The world now waits to see if war is going to break out in the Middle East between Israel and Iran.

What ups the stakes in the region is that Israel is an unadmitted but known nuclear State, thanks in part to the United States blowing Israel’s cover on the issue.[5] [6]

If that isn’t scary enough, Iran is suspected of having nuclear weapons as well,[7] [8] though the quality and deliverability of such weapons is in debate, even if they exist at all.

Iran has stated that the attack on Israel can be “deemed concluded” but has warned of additional action should Israel “make another mistake”. [9]

Currently, Israel’s war cabinet is meeting to decide on what response, if any, is to be made.

What can Israel do?

  1. Israel can do nothing.
  2. Israel can launch a limited strike on Iranian targets outside of Iran’s territory.
  3. Israel can attack Iran itself.

Option 1 is what the United States is pushing for, going so far as to tell Israel that the U.S. will not support Israel’s counterstrike.[10]  The argument is that because Israel suffered no real damage from the attack, there is no need for a response.  (Some Israel facilities were damages and there are reports of some injuries.)  This would be considered a very weak response by Israel and could embolden Iran to attack again in the future.

Option 2 could allow Israel to save face but avoid an escalation, assuming Iran was willing to absorb the attack.  This has not been Iran’s character in the face of previous attacks by Israel, though Iran has been loath to escalate a confrontation with Israel to the point of exposing itself to a direct attack in the past.  Which is why this direct attack by Iran against Israel is so out of character for Iran.  This also could be seen as a weak response, especially by the homefront, in the face of an enemy that has repeatedly called for the outright destruction of Israel.[11] [12]

Option 3 would present no alternative for Iran but to respond.  And then there would be counterresponses and counterresponses to those until there is full blown war.

Which is more likely? Depends on how much Israel is out for blood.

Certainly, the United States has some sway as there are reports that the United States prevented Israel from an immediate response.[13] [14]  How much sway it has in preventing a response from Israel will be seen in the next few days.

The only way for this situation to resolve — at least for the time being — is for one country to accept the hit on the chin.  Israel has been pretty good at that.  Iran has not.

So when does all this turn nuclear if it is going to?

Israel’s history has been fraught with near annihilation.  Three major wars have been fought against it by Arab nations seeking its destruction.  The Six-Day War came close to seeing that happen.[15]

Militarily, Iran does not have the capability to seriously threaten Israel’s existence.  Iran relies on a coalition of Arab States to attack simultaneously, overwhelming Israel and forcing it to either capitulate or destroy it.  The problem is, Iran is generally hated by…well…everyone.[16]  So it’s hard to get a group of countries together when those countries don’t like you in the first place.

Israel also has a fairly staunch ally in the United States.  We say “fairly” as the United States is not as reliable ally as it should be.[17]  How far the U.S. will actually go when it comes to the defense of Israel is something the Israelis are asking.  But Iran has to take this into its calculus when it considers an actual war with Israel.

So Israel is fairly safe as a country, at least when it comes to Iran.  This means that Israel has no real reason to use nuclear weapons.  Unless Russia comes to Iran’s aid.  Russia and Iran have a complicated relationship, born out of “enemy of my enemy is my friend” rather than through mutual friendship.  So there is a question as to how much Russia will assist Iran in a conflict with Israel.

That leaves Iran itself.

Of course, the general consensus is that Iran does not have nuclear weapons.[18]  And Iran has stated that it does not intend to pursue them.[19]  But troubling signs are there.  Iran has prevented the International Atomic Energy Agency from proper inspections.[20]  So we really don’t know.  Years ago, a rebel group claimed that Iran possessed nuclear weapons.  Although this claim was disregarded, this group also correctly revealed the clandestine Fordow nuclear facility Iran had.

It should be noted that there is no direct evidence of Iran possessing a nuclear weapon.  Of course, the same could be said about Israel.

Assume Iran has nuclear weapons for the moment.  At what point would they be used?

Certainly any nuclear use by Iran would invite unprecedented retaliation.  However, Iran — unlike Russia or China or North Korea — would not possess enough nor have the delivery capability to strike the United States and therefore would not be able to blackmail other countries into staying out of the conflict.  So nuclear use by Iran would have to be in such a way as to threaten a third party (Israel) into keeping retaliation at bay.

So any nuclear use by Iran would have be limited to Israel, and it would need to be done in such a way that the threat of additional attacks would remain viable.

Of course, what would drive Iran to use a nuclear weapon in the first place?  That is the question!  A massive strike by Israel on Iranian home soil?  Repeat attacks?  A threat to the regime?

Or would a single attack by Israel be enough for Iran to resort to nuclear usage?

The West looks at the Middle East through Western eyes and doesn’t understand the complicated socio-religious aspects.  What drives an Iranian is different from what drives a Californian.  Most everyone has something to die for, and Iran is no exception.  Israel isn’t either.

So the world waits to see what Israel will do.  And then what Iran will do.  And so on and so on.

Of course, all this could blow over if Israel does nothing.  Or all this could blow over if Israel gets its revenge and Iran does nothing.

What are the odds of that?  Hopefully, better than what we think they are.

[1] Iran says Israel bombs its embassy in Syria, kills commanders –

[2] Iran’s Unprecedented But Choreographed Attack On Israel Underlines Tehran’s Limits –

[3] Iran attack live updates: Israel says over 300 drones, missiles were shot down –

[4] As Jordan, US forces intercept Iranian drones bound for Israel, Tehran warns Amman against aiding Israel –

[5] Israel has at least 150 atomic weapons: Carter –

[6] Colin Powell leaked emails: Israel has ‘200 nukes all pointed at Iran’, former US secretary of state says –

[7] Iran’s nuclear weapons program never really slowed down –

[8] Israeli Leader Says Iran Hid a Nuclear Weapons Site –


[10] Scoop: Biden told Bibi U.S. won’t support an Israeli counterattack on Iran –

[11] When Iran Says ‘Death to Israel,’ It Means It –

[12] Iran’s Leadership In Their Own Words –

[13] Ch. 12 quotes ‘senior Israeli official’ pledging ‘unprecedented response’ to Iran attack, urging Israelis not to go to bed –

[14] Israeli retaliation against Iran stopped by Biden phone call – report –

[15] Deconstructing Israel’s Samson Option –

[16] Who are Iran’s allies in a potential conflict with the United States? –

[17] Could The United States Be A Bad Ally? –

[18] Iran and Nuclear Weapons Production –,-270,792

[19] Nuclear bomb fears are a false ‘excuse’: Iran’s Khamenei –

[20] Iran’s barring of inspectors is serious blow to IAEA’s work, Grossi says –

Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.

© 2024 The DEFCON Warning System. Established 1984.

The DEFCON Warning System is a private intelligence organization which has monitored and assessed nuclear threats by national entities since 1984. It is not affiliated with any government agency and does not represent the alert status of any military branch. The public should make their own evaluations and not rely on the DEFCON Warning System for any strategic planning. At all times, citizens are urged to learn what steps to take in the event of a nuclear attack.