Precisely the Time to Squeeze Iran

Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan responds to 'NY Times' editorial that blasted the PM's position on Iran.

Likud MK Gilad Erdan (photo credit: REUTERS)
Likud MK Gilad Erdan
(photo credit: REUTERS)
No country has more to lose than Israel if there is not a peaceful solution to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. That is why Israel wants diplomacy with Iran to succeed.
But success must be measured by what diplomacy achieves. The goal is to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program. A deal should be a means to that end and not an end in itself.
The deal on the table (the details of which have been widely reported) makes more likely the very two outcomes its proponents seek to prevent – a nuclear-armed Iran or the use of force against Iran’s nuclear weapons infrastructure before it’s too late.
Some claim that the proposed deal will require Iran to freeze its nuclear program for six months in exchange for mild sanctions relief. Neither assumption will hold.
To freeze its program, Iran would not only have to stop the construction of its plutonium-producing heavy water reactor and add no further centrifuges. It would also have to halt all uranium enrichment, which Iran refuses to do. An agreement that allows Iran to continue enrichment of material for nuclear bombs while talks go on will not freeze Iran's nuclear program.
Nor is the sanctions relief mild. Allowing the Iranian regime access to billions of dollars would significantly ease the very pressure that has brought Iran to the table in the first place. In a tanking economy like Iran’s, these changes will make a big difference. The current sanctions regime took years to put in place and is likely to fray quickly once the proposed deal kicks in.
Thus this "first step" agreement would leave Iran closer to nuclear weapons and under less pressure not to produce them.
If Iran refuses to dismantle centrifuges and its plutonium reactor and to stop enrichment now, why would it agree to do so after the pressure on it has been reduced? If a deal this bad is the first step, what comes next? President Obama has made it clear that he is determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Israel shares that goal.
To meet our common aim it is essential to dismantle Iran's capability to produce such weapons.
Sanctions should continue to increase for as long as Iran continues to produce the infrastructure and fuel for nuclear weapons.
Anything less will make both Iran’s attainment of nuclear weapons and the use of force to prevent it more likely.
We should find no comfort in this week’s International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran’s nuclear activities. Some try to downplay the IAEA’s disturbing findings – that, contrary to six binding UN Security Council resolutions, Iran continues to enrich and amass fissile material, work on its heavy water reactor and deny inspectors access to facilities suspected of housing nuclear weapons-related activities. Furthermore, a slowdown in construction is meaningless when Iran already has all the infrastructure it needs to make fissile material for the nuclear weapons it seeks.
Contrary to the New York Times editorial, this is precisely “the time to squeeze Iran.” If the P5+1 do so and thereby succeed in reaching an agreement that peacefully and genuinely ends Iran’s nuclear weapons program, preventing it from becoming a threshold nuclear military power, we will all have Prime Minister Netanyahu among others to thank for their vigilance.