(photo credit: Stringer Austria / Reuters)
After years of being accused of crying wolf, Israel was vindicated on Tuesday
with the publication of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s damning report
on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
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While the report shied away from
saying that Iran was actively building a bomb, it did conclude that Iran was
developing a nuclear-weapon design and conducting extensive research and tests
that could only be relevant for nuclear weapons.
The report shows first
of all that IAEA chief Yukiya Amano of Japan is far different than his
predecessor Mohamed Elbaradei of Egypt, whom Israel accused of turning a blind
eye to Tehran’s ongoing and persistent nuclear violations. A lot of the
information revealed in the report has been known to the IAEA and member states
for a number of years, but was not released due to political
The report also means that for the time being, an Israeli
military strike will likely move to the back burner, and Jerusalem will focus
instead on getting the world to impose crippling sanctions on Iran, not crippled
sanctions like those that have already been passed.
This would include
banning business with the Central Bank of Iran, as well as restrictions on work
with the Iranian energy sector – both moves believed to be capable of creating a
severe economic crisis in Iran that could, in turn, lead the regime to
reconsider its current course of action.
Formulating and passing
sanctions takes time, though – at least a couple of months. It takes another few
months to see if they are having an effect.
Israel will have to be
One problem is going to be the expected Russian and Chinese
opposition to a UN Security Council resolution on sanctions, but even if that
happens, Israel believes that countries that pass sanctions on an individual
basis could also have the desired effect.
For that reason, Israel is also
moving out of the spotlight and wants to see what the world will do with the
report, which provides a fascinating analysis and chronicle of Iran’s work over
the past two decades to develop a nuclear weapon.
It highlights the
different organizations and offices in Iran that have worked on the weapons
program based on hundreds of documents provided by member states such as Israel,
the US, England, Germany and France.
While it is difficult to imagine the
phone calls Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will have to make now that the
IAEA has released its report, he will have to get over the gaffe by US President
Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the sidelines of the G-20
summit in Cannes last week, which was revealed on Tuesday
“I cannot bear
Netanyahu, he’s a liar,” Sarkozy told Obama, who reportedly replied, “You’re fed
up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you.”
any day, a prime minister’s relationship with foreign leaders is an issue of
For that reason, for example, the Israeli press traditionally
always discusses the so-called “chemistry” between the prime minister and the US
president after their meetings and whether they hit it off or
Obama’s and Sarkozy’s remarks, though, are even more worrying,
considering that following the report’s publication, Israel will be calling on
the world to take immediate action.
If Sarkozy cannot bear Netanyahu, and
Obama appears to suffer from his own frequent dealings with the prime minister,
then there is room to ask how they will all work together to stop
Hopefully the answer is that even leaders who don’t like each other
know how to overcome their personal differences for the sake of national
interests and world security.
The sense in Jerusalem is that they will,
and that regardless of what Obama and Sarkozy might think of Netanyahu, the
publication of the IAEA report is understood by all to be possibly the last real
chance to stop Iran with non-military means.