Yadlin: Geneva agreement isn't final, Iran is being tested

INSS chief credits Netanyahu with improvements on previous proposal draft, calls on gov't to stop talking to US through media.

Amos Yadlin 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Amos Yadlin 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The agreement reached in Geneva over Iran’s nuclear program is only an initial deal, which will allow the US and the international community to test Iran over the next six months, former military intelligence chief and the head of the Institute for National Security Studies, Amos Yadlin, said Sunday.
Speaking to journalists through a conference call, Yadlin urged Israelis not to be taken in by a sense of gloom over the agreement, saying, “If this was a final agreement, it would indeed be a very bad deal, but this is not the case.”
“The world powers wanted to reach an agreement. I hope that the prime minister is now formulating a strategy to see what happens in the next six months,” Yadlin said. “That, and not what happened last night, is what is important.”
Although not a “dream agreement,” when compared to the proposed deal floated in Geneva earlier this month, Sunday’s agreement is an improvement, Yadlin argued.
He credited Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with improvements that appeared in the second draft. Unlike the first draft, the arrangement freezes nearly all Iranian activities at the Arak heavy water reactor (a suspected plutonium path for the nuclear program), and forces the Iranians to convert their stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium to fuel.
The deal gained an Iranian commitment not to build additional uranium enrichment centrifuges and forces the Iranians to neutralize their stockpile of 20% uranium.
Collectively, these measures only slightly roll back Iran’s program, Yadlin stressed. A final, reasonable agreement would see Iran disband its tens of thousands of centrifuges, while shipping out its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, enough to make six to seven atomic bombs, he said. A final agreement must significantly increase international supervision, allowing for daily inspections at all sites, including ones that have been off limits to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, he added.
“The Americans are going to put the Iranians to the test,” Yadlin said. “This needs time. We’d all be happier if the current agreement would have rolled Iran back more. Both sides needed an initial agreement to gain legitimacy at home for additional steps. There’s no need to be too excited by this.”
The former military intelligence chief said he was encouraged by comments made by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, who said the US shares Israel’s strategic goal of preventing Iran from going nuclear. He called on Israel’s government to go back to talking to the US through closed-door channels rather than media headlines.
If, after six months, diplomacy reaches an impasse, the US must cancel the easing of sanctions, tighten them and weigh additional steps, Yadlin stated.
Addressing fears that the sanctions regime might collapse, Yadlin said the Geneva deal would give the Iranian economy $7 billion, which “is not what they need at all.”
He highlighted American reassurances that easing of sanctions is “limited, temporary and reversible,” adding, “I think this is what we wanted to avoid a collapse of the sanctions regime. We should focus on the coming six months, and not talk about who surrendered to whom.”
Had talks failed to deliver any interim deal whatsoever, Iran would continue to enrich uranium to the 20% level, install more centrifuges, and advance its plutonium track at the Arak heavy water reactor, Yadlin warned.
Additionally, the coalition of states that voluntarily placed sanctions on Iran might break up in the absence of progress in talks.
“Without loving this agreement, it is better than the alternatives,” he said. “It obligates us now to put all our efforts into ensuring that the final agreement, in six months, will roll back the nuclear program.”
A reasonable final agreement must roll Iran back from nuclear breakout capability by years, not months, he added.