Israel should initiate a strategically vital new dialogue with the Obama administration following the achieving of the Iran nuclear deal, former national security adviser Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Netanyahu convenes security cabinet: Israel not bound by deal with Iran
Such a dialogue would be aimed at achieving “unequivocal obligations to Israel,” he said.
Although agreeing with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the nuclear deal is certainly a bad one, Eiland suggested that it is time to tone down the confrontation between Jerusalem and Washington in favor of a more productive dialogue, which could be “critical, but not fiery.”
A continued, vitriolic, and direct confrontation between Jerusalem and the White House, and Israeli attempts to take that fight to Congress, would be less beneficial than reaching agreements with the Obama administration, he argued.
The agreements would be based on receiving long-term US assurances, according to which, if Iran violates the agreement, an unforgiving American response would ensue, Eiland said. Additionally, Israel is now in a position to seek the acquisition of a range of US military goods.
“We can hold a dialogue with the Americans,” Eiland stated. “I would do this in a much more cooperative environment. Israel can request returns in the defense world – this is something Israel preferred not to do until now, for fear of signaling that it had accepted the agreement.”
Eiland said it is clear that “this agreement is bad. It gives Iran a lot, and it is not serious in terms of supervision. It lifts all sanctions. I agree with the prime minister that this agreement makes the situation worse. Not just in the short term – up to 10 years from now – but in terms of what happens after that. According to this agreement, Iran can do anything after 10 years.”
From the perspective of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, however, the agreement delays a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, Eiland said.
The alternative to a deal, even a poor one such as this, would be further Iranian progress on its nuclear program, and Iran doing “what it wants,” prompting other regional states to follow suit, Eiland said.
“Now, other countries don’t have a concrete reason to speed up their dealings with nuclear weapons. Iran will apparently be cautious and freeze some of its [nuclear] activities. This partially stops a nuclear arms race in the region.”
Asked if the agreement makes it more difficult for Israel to consider a military strike on Iran, Eiland answered in the affirmative, assuming that Tehran keeps to the arrangement, and fulfills American expectations. That scenario would limit prospects for an “overt Israeli operation,” he said.
Any Israeli military strike under those circumstances would be perceived as being “not just against Iran, but against an international agreement that the whole world supports, and which we torpedo [in the event of an attack],” Eiland explained.
“Hence, in the foreseeable future, I see very small room for maneuver regarding the military option. But I agree that it [the military capabil - ity] must be safeguarded,” Eiland said, as there are no guarantees that Iran will not violate the agreement down the line.
Former national security adviser Maj.-Gen. Yaacov Amidror told the Post
, “The main problem here is that the Americans went, at a certain stage, from a policy of dismantling the Iranian capabilities to a policy of monitoring them. In the meantime, the Iranians changed all of their capabilities.”
Amidror, a senior research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, said the deal “leaves all of Iran’s capabilities, and enables Iran to maintain them. In principle, Iran received legitimacy for a military nuclear program since there is no logic in having these capabilities for a civilian nuclear power program.”
In 10 to 15 years, when the deal expires, Iran’s nuclear program will be more advanced, Amidror argued, and Iran will emerge stronger “in every way, with more legitimacy, and less sensitive to [the possibility of renewed] sanctions.” By the time the deal expires, Iran will be stronger economically, diplomatically, and militarily, he warned. Tehran’s regional power will have grown. And its research and development into uranium enrichment will have taken many steps forward. “This is the legitimacy that Iran received from the US,” Amidror said. “That is the core of the agreement. And this is all based on the very optimistic view that the Iranians don’t cheat. In the first few years, they are likely to keep the agreement due to the economic benefits they will receive,” he added.
Asked what Israel should do, Amidror replied, “Study the agreement, and examine what is going on. In addition, Israel has to take very seriously President Obama’s statement that Israel must be able to protect itself, by itself.”