The fight with Iran is growing
Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and a Quick Take to kick off your week. And we see over the weekend, strikes, drone strikes, explosive drone strikes against Iran, the city of Isfahan, and in particular a major military facility responsible for the production of drones and ballistic missiles. Oh, my.
Of course, Iran is under lots of pressure these days. And not a lot of people are happy with what's happening in that country, not inside the country, with months now of major demonstrations that have only been met with repression from the Iranian government, from its theocracy, from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. We're also seeing that the Iranians are through nuclear breakout capability. They have more than enough, a highly enriched uranium at 60% level, which has no civilian use or purpose. It's only for a military program in a deep, under a mountain at this facility in Fordo, which you can't... The Israelis, for example, don't have the military capacity to strike it or destroy it, a problem, of course, as you think about Iran increasingly becoming a nuclear state.
And then you have Iran's relationship with Russia. By far the closest relationship that any sovereign state has with Vladimir Putin. I mean you'd say Belarus, but it's not really sovereign. A lot of their alleged sovereignty really are the strings that are being pulled by the Russian government. For example, the Belarusian mission to the UN is actually co-located in the Russian mission, just down the street. Don't know if you know that. Kind of interesting.
But anyway, it's not the point. The point is that while the Chinese are supposed to be the friends with no global limits for Putin, in reality, they're not providing military support. They're not breaking sanctions. The Iranians are. They are seen as a rogue state. They are seen as a pariah by the United States, increasingly by the entire West. And they are willing to provide direct military support for the Russians to continue to pursue their war in Ukraine.
The Russians in return, have recently agreed to send up a fleet of Sukhoi Su-35s. This is an air force that the Russians are providing for Iran. The first time the Iranians will have that capability since the revolution in 1979. This is a principle threat to the Saudis, it's a principle threat to Israel. And of course, it's also an indirect but principle threat to Ukraine, because so many of the drones and missile strikes that have been hitting civilian targets across Ukraine have come from Iran.
And so there are plenty of people, plenty of countries that would be interested in striking Iran, as a consequence. US intelligence sources say that it's the Israelis that are behind it. Certainly, they have the easiest capabilities to engage in such a strike. They've done it before. The Netanyahu government is much more inclined to pursue military action against Iran, so it's absolutely plausible, incredible. Having said that, no direct evidence and the Israelis haven't said, "Yep, it was us that done it.", so let's continue to hold that in abeyance in terms of being conclusive.
But still, what this is really telling you is that the fight with Iran is growing, and the fight in Ukraine is growing. You now have two major rogue states on the global stage aligned with each other, more powerful collectively than any rogue states we've ever dealt with in the international community. And increasingly, they're performing very badly. The Iranians are geopolitically isolated in the Middle East. The Russians are geopolitical isolated from all of Europe economically, geo-strategically, technologically, and diplomatically. And that means that both of these countries are led by people that are more willing to lash out. They also see more domestic pressure against them as a consequence of failing in so many of the efforts that they've made on the geopolitical stage.
So not at all surprised. This is why Iran was number four in our top risks, the highest that's ever been this year back in January. The concern, of course, is that we're increasingly not going to be just talking about military action in Ukraine or strikes against Iran, but that increasingly, it's the West that's going to be involved in that war more directly and more broadly.
Anyway, that's what we're focusing on right now. Talk to you all again real soon.