Iran says it is ready to scale back its nuclear activities, yet it remains
adamant that it will retain its capability to enrich uranium. And, according to
diplomats, the United States and its European allies have resigned themselves to
The question is how much of that capability and material Iran
would retain under a deal.
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz
carried the needle to pop that balloon, stating that Israel would accept a deal
only if it meant a total dismantling of the nuclear program similar to what was
carried out in Libya.
Unfortunately for Israel, it seems that the world
powers’ recent optimism over the way talks are going means that some kind of
compromise may be in the offing, which would lead to Israel’s isolation in
confronting Iran if it saw the deal as unacceptable.
After all, this was
one of the objectives of Iran for these negotiations – to split the USIsrael
alliance over this issue and take a US attack off the table, leaving Israel
alone to attack against the will of the international community. If a deal is
reached, an Israeli attack would be viewed as ruining it, and under such
circumstances, its allies would be less likely to come to its
Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East
Policy at the Brookings Institution, who previously served as a US deputy
assistant secretary of defense and a senior director at the National Security
Council, told the The Jerusalem Post this week: “I think the pressure to cut a
deal, even a bad deal, will be immense, because the breaking away from the
negotiations will be read either as the abject failure of Obama’s policy or as a
prelude to war.”
Chuck Freilich, a senior fellow at the Belfer Center of
Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a former deputy national security
adviser in Israel, told the Post Thursday evening that he thinks a deal is a
good opportunity for Israel.
“Anyone who thinks there will be a knockout
blow and Iran will end up with no nuclear capabilities at all is being
unrealistic,” he said, adding, “the military option would buy us only around two
to three years at most, and at a heavy price while a reasonable diplomatic deal
would at least get us that much and maybe more.”
Israel should be willing
to compromise and “settle for less than a perfect deal,” said Freilich, noting
that “given the circumstances, it is better than the alternatives.”
him, the US and the EU also have an interest in making a deal that would not
allow Iran to attain nuclear weapons.
Freilich considers Steinitz’s
position – that a complete dismantling would be required – desirable but
Iran will not agree to end its program, he said, and
therefore a strict deal, which would include inspections and a low limit to
Iranian enrichment as well as an acceptable deal on the plutonium reactor in
Arak, would buy Israel perhaps even more time than would an attack.
Dore Gold, the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and
the former Israeli ambassador to the UN told the Post that "any
reduction of the sanctions regime could lead to its collapse and for
that reason the Iranians are determined to use diplomacy to advance its
The more fundamental question, he
said, is if Iran is really about to change or, from all indications,
Iran plans on continuing its activities on the ground in Syria, Iraq,
Yemen, and across the Middle East. Iran remains a power seeking regional
hegemony, he said.
Asked if Israel would be
isolated if a deal it disliked was concluded, Gold responded that even
though Israel is on the forefront of public discussion, the Gulf states
such as Saudi Arabia are also very concerned.
Alex Bligh, director of the Middle East Research Center at Ariel University,
told the Post that Israel’s position is simple: Iran cannot have any possible
way to put together even one nuclear warhead.
He says that the continuing
negotiations are a repetition of what we saw with North Korea, where the world
powers allowed the nuclear program to continue.
“Israel is the only sane
voice in this context,” said Bligh.
In any case, Iran would violate any
agreement, he said pointing out that such a deal would be “partial and