Monday Briefing

The Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. Credit…Atta Kenare/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The threat of a broader conflict with Iran

Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks in Israel and Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip have emboldened a newly aggressive Iran. After launching scores of attacks across the region, Iranian proxy groups have come into direct conflict with U.S. forces twice in the past week, and Washington is openly threatening airstrikes if the violence does not abate.

The Iranian nuclear program has dramatically ramped up. International inspectors announced last month that Iran initiated a threefold increase in its enrichment of near-bomb-grade uranium. Iran is now estimated to have the fuel for at least three atomic weapons. U.S. intelligence officials believe that the enrichment needed to turn that fuel into bomb-grade material would take weeks.

U.S. and European intelligence officials say they do not believe the Iranians want a direct conflict with the U.S. or Israel, a scenario the officials suspect would not end well. But Tehran seems more than willing to push the envelope.

A new power dynamic: Since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Iran no longer finds itself isolated. It is suddenly in an alliance of sorts with both Russia and China, two members of the U.N. Security Council that, in a past era, supported Washington in trying to limit Iran’s nuclear program.

In other news from the region:

  • Israel said it had broken up Hamas’s command structure in northern Gaza and signaled that it was committed to dismantling the group.

  • In Gaza, two journalists were killed in an Israeli drone strike, according to the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa.

  • An uptick in violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank left at least 11 people dead, including a 3-year-old Palestinian girl, officials said.

A photo provided by the Ukrainian government said to show one of the areas reported struck on Saturday. Credit…State Emergency Service of Ukraine, via Reuters

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