WASHINGTON – Israel fears a bad deal between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program is imminent, Ambassador Ron Dermer warned.
Speaking in Washington on Thursday, Dermer said negotiations in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 – the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany – risked leaving Iran “a threshold nuclear power” that would move them back from “two months, where they are today, to maybe two or three months further” from a nuclear weapon.
“They cheated in Natanz,” Dermer told the audience, warning Western powers against extensive dismantlement of its sanctions infrastructure on Iran in exchange for time. “They cheated in Qom.”
Dermer was speaking to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which held its annual forum and focused on threats permeating from the Middle East.
Also addressing the forum at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, spoke of what successful policy on Iran might look like.
“Failure is anything short of having a verifiable way to dismantle the nuclear weapons program,” he said. “Failure would be allowing Iran to proceed with an [intercontinental ballistic missile] program.”
He added that “success would have been to pass that legislation.”
Royce was referring to legislation passed over the summer through the House of Representatives, by 400 to 20, to further sanction Iran’s oil sector. FDD, a conservative think tank, was at the table in the drafting of the bill.
Two months after that legislation passed, direct talks began between Iran and the US in New York and continued in Geneva shortly thereafter.
Reacting to the shift, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) adapted the legislation to include a trigger for sanctions should the P5+1 talks fail to achieve a comprehensive solution to the impasse.
The bill, however, drew a veto threat from US President Barack Obama, who warned that new sanctions legislation would derail negotiations.
Senate leadership has declined to bring Menendez’ bill to the floor for debate.
Menendez told FDD that he stands by the bill and suggested its passage will “prevent a set of circumstances” in which Obama, or his successor, will face a stark dilemma: Acceptance of a nuclear Iran, or war.
“No one wants a diplomatic solution more than I do. But it cannot be a deal for a deal’s sake,” Menendez said.
“And I am worried they want a deal more than they want the right deal.”
Menendez suggested that his “trigger” sanctions bill might be revisited before such circumstances occur.
“I think that time may be coming soon,” he added.