There are deep concerns that the US would be unwilling to activate pressure
levers if talks for a final deal on Iran’s nuclear program fail, former Military
Intelligence chief and the head of the Institute for National Security Studies,
Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin said Wednesday.
In a paper published by the
INSS, Yadlin called on Jerusalem and Washington to iron out their differences
and reintroduce trust between them to jointly stop Iran’s march to nuclear
He noted that a wide gap exists between the US and Israel
to achieve their joint goal of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. Both states
agree that sanctions and a credible military threat are the only two pressure
points that can cause Iran to change its strategy, but disagree strongly on the
scope, efficiency, and timing of these pressures, Yadlin wrote.
that current talks between Iran and the P5+1
countries are aimed at an initial
agreement, rather than a final one, Yadlin said the Americans view such a deal
as a pathway to talks on a full and final arrangement with Iran, and as a test
of the intent of the Iranian leadership.
The current talks can be used to
improve the atmosphere and encourage the “moderate” elements in Iran, according
to the US’s view.
Additionally, if Iran stops its progress in an initial
agreement, that would be preferable to months of further nuclear advancement, in
Washington’s eyes. The crux of sanctions on the oil and financial industries in
Iran would remain in effect and would continue to have an influence, even after
some easing of conditions, according to this view.
Yet Israel views this
approach as dangerous and misguided.
In Jerusalem’s assessment, the US is
seeking an agreement at any cost, and risks the historic error of missing an
opportunity to capitalize on the achievements made by sanctions over the past
year, Yadlin stated.
Additionally, Israel is concerned that some easing
of sanctions now would lead to a crumbling of the sanctions regime, due to a
rush by corporations into the Islamic Republic to do business. In this scenario,
the US would be left without leverage during talks for a final agreement, and
Iran would return to a full-scale nuclear program, enriching uranium to 20
percent and perhaps beyond, adding thousands of new-generation centrifuges, and
activating the heavy water core in Arak, among other steps.
he was deeply concerned by the strong prospect that the US would be unwilling to
activate its pressure levers if talks for a final nuclear deal fail.
seems they won’t declare the negotiations process with Iran as a failure even if
they don’t reach an agreement,” he added. “There is a concern that the initial
agreement will turn into the set agreement, and it’s appropriate to label this
as a very bad deal. The significance of this is choosing between an activation
of the military option – a step the Americans are further from than ever – and
the option of increasing sanctions
that will ‘push’ Iran, so they [the
Americans] fear, to break through to the bomb.”
Yadlin said that the
American fear of a “third war in the Middle East, the trauma of long and
unsuccessful wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the lack of American faith in the
operational possibility of an aerial maneuver, focused and surgical, are
worryingly eroding the credibility of the military lever against
The current mood in Washington is raising concerns in Israel that
an acceptance of a nuclear Iran is growing stronger, and that the “contain and
deter” approach is gaining currency. A failure to bridge between the breakdown
in trust between the US and Israel, and to repair the American pressure levers
for reaching a diplomatic solution, will leave an Israeli military option as
“the only answer to the challenge of the Iranian nuclear program.”
called for a return to US-Israeli strategic and tactical coordination at senior
levels to stop Iran. To that end, he called for the discord between the two
governments over the “initial agreement” to be ironed out, which could be
achieved if Washington makes clear to Jerusalem what sanctions might be eased in
the proposed deal.
Transparency and the provision of updated information
Israel behind closed doors is essential, Yadlin argued.
agreement must see the conversion of all of Iran’s 20 percent uranium to
material that cannot allow Tehran to break through to a nuclear weapon,
cessation of work on the plutonium heavy water core at Arak, and deactivating
new-generation centrifuges, he continued.
Otherwise, the Iranian nuclear
clock will not be stopped in any meaningful way, Yadlin said. The US should make
clear that an initial agreement does not legitimize Iran’s nuclear activities,
that it is in effect for only six months, and that both Jerusalem and Washington
define the parameters of “success” and “failure” of any final
Furthermore, a “Plan B” must be agreed upon by Washington and
Jerusalem in case initial agreement does not materialize, if Iran violates it,
or if a final agreement isn’t reached within six months of talks.
added that the US should reinstate a credible military threat, and make clear
that if talks fail, new sanctions against Iran would be introduced.