(photo credit: REUTERS)
The framework deal with Iran doesn’t even provide safety for a year, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Tuesday. He was reacting to a media blitz by US President Barack Obama assuring the public that the agreement would curb Tehran’s nuclear program for over a decade.
Obama “says we have insurance here for 10 years, but I say we don’t have insurance here for even one or two years unless the loopholes are closed, and only then could it become a more reasonable agreement,” Steinitz said, adding that “I wouldn’t trust this [deal] if it was home insurance, and certainly not if it was life insurance.”
To his sorrow, he said, Israel’s role here is to “ruin the party” that occurred last week in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the six world powers reached a framework agreement with Iran. The US hopes to finalize the final details of the agreement in June.
Steinitz declared that it is a bad deal with many loopholes.
Among the items that concern him is that the deal would allow Iran to continue its research and development on more advanced, faster centrifuges to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.
“It is extremely significant,” Steinitz said in a briefing he gave in Jerusalem on Monday about the agreement.
The US has explained that the deal freezes Iran’s nuclear program and extends its breakout time – the point at which Iran can become a nuclear threshold state – from several months to a year.
But Steinitz warned that if, under the terms of the agreement, Iran could improve the speed with which it reaches nuclear-weapons capability, its nuclear program would obviously not be frozen.
“You cannot tell yourself its a total freeze,” he said, arguing that the ability to produce faster centrifuges is more significant than the number of centrifuges Iran could possess under this deal.
At present, the Iranians’ research and development on centrifuges is illegal, he said.
However, the deal legalizes it – a move that enables them to speed up their research, since they can legally purchase material for it and bring in experts from around the globe, he said.
“They will be dashing to the bomb,” he warned. They are now only two or three months away from possessing enough material to produce a nuclear weapon, and under this agreement, the breakout time could be a matter of weeks, he said.
What has worked and would continue to work, he asserted, are sanctions combined with a credible military threat. He said this combination was what had halted their program several years ago.
Obama has said that these tools could be used should Iran violate the terms of the deal, which means they are effective mechanisms and there is no reason to relinquish them at this stage, Steinitz added.
On Monday, Deputy US National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told Channel 2 that the American military option remains on the table should Iran violate the terms of the deal.
Steinitz similarly said that, while Israel prefers a diplomatic solution of increased sanctions, it is also keeping the military option on the table and reserves its right to defend itself.
“It was on the table, it is on the table,” he said, adding, “It is our right and duty to decide how to defend ourselves, especially when our national security and even our very existence is under threat.”