Former US official: US and Israel need to get creative to deal with Iran

The INSS conference discussed how Israel could benefit from alliances with Sunni countries, while the US could leverage a close relationship with Russia to deal with Iran.

A MILITARY truck carrying a missile and a picture of Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei drives in a parade marking the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war in Tehran (photo credit: REUTERS)
A MILITARY truck carrying a missile and a picture of Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei drives in a parade marking the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war in Tehran
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The US and Israel may need to be creative in dealing with Israel’s neighbors and forming alliances to deal with Iran, former US Assistant secretary of defense for international security Mary Beth Long told an INSS conference on Iran in Tel Aviv.
The former top US defense official did not fully spell out what she had in mind, but the implication was that Israel might need to compromise in other areas, possibly on the peace process front, to help line up moderate Sunni allies against the Islamic Republic.
Both Long and other speakers at Thursday’s Institute for National Security Studies event, including Foundation for Defense of Democracies President Mark Dubowitz, suggested the US should be creative in forming alliances, including potentially leveraging a close relationship with Russia to help tame Iran.
One area where there was some disagreement among the speakers was whether the Iran nuclear agreement signed in 2015 could be renegotiated.
INSS Arms Control Chairwoman Emily Landau, while a critic of the deal, said that at this point “there is no leverage for renegotiating, because sanctions [against Tehran] have already been lifted...
leverage was squandered for a problematic deal. Renegotiation sounds nice, but there is no way to do it.”
Suspected Iran missile launch on Jan. 29, 2017 is "unacceptable" says US UN rep Haley (credit: REUTERS)
In contrast, Dubowitz gave examples of past US arms deals that he said had been renegotiated and said the “US must squeeze Iran so hard,” using a combination of economic and threatened military pressure, that it “will come back to the table in five or six years.”
Dubowitz’s idea was that US President Donald Trump has been so loud and unpredictable sounding on the Iran issue that he has “created so much fear, uncertainty and doubt...; now his competent national security team can translate that into leverage with Iran.”
Landau’s ideas for Trump confronting Iran were to “enforce the deal to the letter,” clear up “interpretations of the deal which let Iran play for time if there is a violation,” and confront Tehran “on all of its aggression and provocations.”
She added that Trump should declare the Islamic Republic a violator of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and end its special confidential dealing with the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, so that all of the secret side agreements become transparent.
INSS Senior Fellow Ephraim Asculai, a former longtime official at the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, said Tehran would try to find ways to cheat on the nuclear deal.
He added that Iran was developing advanced centrifuges that would allow it to enrich uranium faster for a nuclear weapon. Also, as a terrorist state, it could deliver a nuclear bomb using civilian aircraft or any other kind of suicide aircraft, even if it had not yet perfected placing a nuclear warhead on one of its missiles.
Regarding how Tehran would relate to the nuclear deal and the West going forward, Tel Aviv University Prof.
Meir Litvak said that there is an ongoing battle between President Hassan Rouhani and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Whereas Rouhani wants to keep the agreement and open Iran up economically, the Revolutionary Guard is fearful that opening up the economy would loosen its control and perhaps undermine the rule of the regime, and has engineered crises to shake the deal, such as the recent missile tests, he said.
Litvak added that Iran Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has at times acted as a referee between the sides, while sometimes seeming to lean more toward the Revolutionary Guard approach in order to undermine Rouhani.