Just days after implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, former State Department official Wendy Sherman, who was instrumental in negotiating the deal, said that if Iran cheated, “all options that the United States has, that we all have, remain completely available.”
However, these comments, during an address to the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, were rebutted by former National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror, whom Sherman said she “adored.” Amidror participated in a panel discussion that followed Sherman’s address.
After adding the caveat “nothing personal,” Amidror – who dealt directly with Sherman for years – said: “We learned through the process that there are some areas in which our interests and the interests of the United States are not the same.
“We might face this situation in the future, and because of that we cannot trust that all the options that everyone is speaking about – and that no one really believes are there – will be taken by the Americans if there is a need,” he said, adding: “I’m not sure there will be a need.”
Furthermore, he said, the agreement was “not as good” as what was described by Sherman, who had given a very upbeat assessment of the deal, saying it was good for the US, the world and Israel.
The deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commits Iran “never to obtain a nuclear weapon, ever, and should they try, all our options remain – all of them,” she said.
Sherman rebutted claims that as a result of the lifting of the sanctions this week Iran will be awash with money with which it could fund destabilizing activities around the world, saying that it stands to gain up to $55 billion of its cash that was frozen around the world, and not $150b. as some have argued.
Further, she said, it will take some $150b. to gets Iran’s oil refineries back online, and many hundreds of billions of dollars more to get its economy back to where it was before the sanctions went into effect.
Sherman, who is Jewish and said she feels a part of the American-Jewish community, said one of the most difficult parts of the negotiations for her personally was the tension it caused “with this beloved country and its people.”
Being Jewish, she said, was one of three strikes she had against her when facing off with the Iranians, the others being that she is female and an American.
Sherman said she reminded herself everyday about Israel’s very real security concerns and that they also were very well understood by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.
Sherman added that she believes, as do Obama and the world powers with whom she negotiated, that the deal “prevents Iran from having a nuclear weapon… forever.”
Earlier in the day, Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold addressed the conference and – on another matter – said Israel has the ability to communicate with “almost every Arab state,” as long as it does not make it to the front page of the daily newspapers.
Gold’s comments came a day after reports that National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz was in Abu Dhabi for talks with Emirati officials this week.
Gold himself was in Abu Dhabi in November, paving the way for the opening of an Israeli office accredited to the International Renewable Energy Agency located there.
“We have a lack of agreement with different countries in the world,” Gold said.
“It is no secret that we have problems in Europe. But there are many countries open to Israel today, and those who say we are isolated do not know what they are talking about.”
The main change, and Gold called it a “dramatic change,” is “the willingness in the Arab world for ties with Israel under the table.” Gold said he travels to various capitals in the Arab world as part of his job, though he did not detail which.
What is important in this communication, he said, “is the feeling that perhaps – with a lot of work – we can create a consensus on the components needed for regional stability and a regional order.”
He said there is no need to agree on details of where every last border will run in the Middle East, but that “there needs to be an agreement on the rules of the game, on who is inside the tent of the countries contributing to regional stability and who are those outside the tent working to undermine regional stability.”
“We are entering a period of a lack of world order, especially in the Middle East,” Gold said. “To prepare infrastructure for a basis of understanding, for regional security arrangements and – in the end – for peace, we have to ensure rules of the game in the world system and in the regional system.