Former Intel chief: US, Israel should reach parallel Iran agreement

Because Iran nuclear agreement is so problematic, suitable response to future dangers is required, argues Amos Yadlin.

August 30, 2015 15:37
4 minute read.
US President Barack Obama (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

US President Barack Obama (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The US and Israel should enter into a bilateral, parallel agreement in response to the highly problematic Iran nuclear agreement, former Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin said over the weekend.

In a paper published at the International Institute of National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, which Yadlin directs, the former senior defense official said a parallel agreement “should provide a suitable response to future dangers inherent in the agreement with Iran.”

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“The agreement signed between the P5+1 and Iran is very problematic for Israel,” Yadlin stated in his paper, adding that it appears as if US President Barack Obama will be successful in getting the deal through Congress.

“Though convinced that the agreement entails potential dangers for Israel, I stand by my previous position, namely, that the Israeli government should avoid interfering in the United States internal debate about this very charged issue. I therefore call on Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu to take measures now toward [a] formulation of a ‘parallel agreement’ between Israel and the United States that mitigates [the Vienna agreement’s weak points],” he added.

A side agreement should clearly spell out a response to scenarios in which Iran seeks to break out to nuclear bomb production before the agreement lapses, Yadlin wrote. Additionally, it should provide a response to Iran’s regional positioning as a nuclear threshold state, led by a fundamentalist regime that sticks by its call to annihilate Israel.

Third, Yadlin said, a parallel agreement should “specify what constitutes a significant breach of the nuclear agreement, detailing the nature and scope of the response to that breach.”

A fourth clause would be dedicated to enhancing American-Israeli intelligence cooperation, and “efforts to close the gaps expected in the verification regime imposed by the IAEA in Iran. Fifth, the parallel agreement will have to enhance intelligence and operational cooperation to prevent Iranian nuclear development outside of Iran, as well as a nuclear arms race in other Middle East states.”

An effective parallel agreement would tackle the negative role played by Iran’s Quds Force in the region, which organizes hostile activity against Israel and other Middle Eastern countries.

“This goal will best be achieved by removing Assad’s murderous regime in Syria – an Iranian strategic asset of the highest degree – and by weakening Hezbollah through the interdiction of its weapon transfers and the undermining of its activities in Lebanon and Syria,” Yadlin wrote.

“As part of US-Israel cooperation, it is also necessary to emphasize the strengthening of moderate, pragmatic partners in the region, such as the Hashemite Kingdom in Jordan, [President Abdel Fattah al-] Sisi’s regime in Egypt, and moderate factions in Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority,” he added.

“Within the framework of the parallel agreement, it is necessary to establish a joint annual review forum that would examine the status of the threat from Iran. It would assess the probability of a scenario in which Iran breaks out to the bomb and the possibility of Iran sneaking toward it. It will periodically review trends and changes in the nature of the Iranian regime, and evaluate the scope of Iranian subversive and terrorist activities in the Middle East and beyond,” Yadlin said.

“Israel is a powerful nation, strong enough to confront the challenges that lie ahead, including those expected from implementation of the [Vienna] agreement,” the former Military Intelligence chief said.

“Nonetheless, the best way to do so runs through Washington, and requires US-Israeli cooperation that manages the risks and maximizes the strategic possibilities expected after the agreement goes into effect,” he added.

Assessing the threats inherent in the Vienna agreement, Yadlin warned that “once it expires (10-15 years), Iran will consolidate a legitimate nuclear infrastructure of unrestricted scope. This infrastructure will include unlimited numbers of advanced centrifuges and vast amounts of 20 percent enriched uranium, placing Iran at what President Obama termed ‘almost zero breakout distance’ from a bomb.

“Another hazardous scenario is one in which Iran violates the agreement before it expires, either by creeping, sneaking, or breaking out to the bomb. The weakness of the IAEA supervision procedures, especially at undeclared Iranian sites, makes it imperative to supplement the inspection efforts with the highest levels of intelligence possible, such that a good picture of Iran’s nuclear status is maintained at all times.”

Iran could also move to establish military nuclear capacity through acquisition or development efforts in a third country, Yadlin cautioned.

“On the conventional level, the financial boost expected in Iran upon the lifting of sanctions will generate and reinforce threats to Israel.

A conventional arms race between Iran and the rich Gulf states that feel threatened by Tehran’s armament is quite likely, and the first signs of Iranian buildup are already visible.”

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