'Israelis must protest Iran deal outside US Embassy'

Former Strategic Affairs Ministry director-general Kuperwasser, who attributed a great deal of importance to Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress, calls on Israelis to take action.

February 18, 2015 06:10
2 minute read.

Final round of negotiations on a nuclear deal with Iran continue in Vienna November 21, 2014. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israelis should take to the streets and protest in front of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv against the emerging Iranian nuclear deal, former Strategic Affairs Ministry director-general Yossi Kuperwasser said Tuesday.

Kuperwasser, who before the ministry job he left at the end of 2014 was a senior officer in Military Intelligence, attributed a great deal of importance to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress.

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He told the annual Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv that “everyone will be listening, and he will present the case of why this is dangerous, and why we should prevent an extremely radical regime like Iran from having the potential to have nuclear weapons.”

However, Kuperwasser said, the battle should not be waged by Netanyahu alone.

“It is not like fighting the Philistines in the Bible, and sending David to present our case,” he said. “The people of Israel should speak up. We should go to the American Embassy here and protest against this dangerous move.

“This is our fate, our fate. Why should we leave it only to the prime minister,” Kuperwasser said to applause. “We should have all the experts sitting here write a paper to the president [US President Barack Obama] saying this is not about politics, it is about our fate. Stop it.”

According to Kuperwasser, the Obama administration is moving toward an “extremely dangerous” deal. Basing himself on reports that the US has agreed to allow the Iranians more than 6,000 centrifuges, he said the problem is not only that figure, “which is unbelievable,” and which “nobody raised a year ago.”

It is also about what will happen to the other 14,000 centrifuges the Iranians now have available, he said. “If not totally dismantled, then within weeks they can reinstall them. What will happen with that?” Kuperwasser also asked about “what will happen” to the Iranian ballistic missiles or the enriched uranium Tehran has stockpiled, or its nuclear research and developments.

“There is a long list of issues of which we hear nothing,” he said. “And we want to know that at the end of the day the [nuclear] threshold will be extremely wide.”

It is a mistake to personalize the matter and set it up as a disagreement between Netanyahu and Obama, Kuperwasser said. It is much deeper than that, he asserted, and represents a fundamental difference between how the “Israeli establishment and the American establishment” view the issues.

While Washington obviously does not want Iran to get nuclear arms, Kuperwasser said the US “looks at it in a different way.”

The US can “afford” to live with a situation where there is a period where it will take Iran a year to produce a nuclear weapon, he said.

“They believe this is a threshold that can be sustained, because in their view Iran is not that terrible,” he said. “It is terrible, but not that terrible.”

According to Kuperwasser, Washington makes a distinction between the “ultra radicals, and the ultra, ultra radicals.

They want to focus on the ultra, ultra radical [Islamic State], and the ultra radicals can be helpful in fighting them.” Because of that, he asserted, a one-year nuclear threshold for the US is “not the end of the world.”

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