In 2007, a senior Israeli cabinet minister told senior military officials that if a country wants nuclear weapons nothing will stop it.“I know at least one country that did it,” he remarked in response to their agreed upon strategy to do everything to keep Iran from getting the bomb.Instead, he advised them to focus on delaying the nuclear program and to ask the US to be handsomely compensated.Eight years later, when it seems that only a miracle will prevent a nuclear deal between the six super powers and Iran in the Vienna talks, one can say that due to its successful diplomacy, sabotage and assassination operations attributed to Mossad and its demand to impose sanctions, Israel managed to prevent Iran from reaching the bomb.
It seems, though, that what Iran really wanted was to be a nuclear-threshold state and not to assemble warheads.Of course, Israel was not alone in these efforts; it was an impressive international concert that presented a unified front.Another Israeli government could have appropriated the nuclear agreement as its victory – as a result of wise diplomacy combined with daring covert actions, Iran was brought to its knees and forced it to sit down, negotiate and compromise on its nuclear program, something Tehran had refused to do from 2002 to 2013. The pending deal will lengthen Iran’s capability to have fissile materials and produce a bomb to at least one year for at least the 10-year term of the agreement.It’s estimated that before Iran agreed to talk and clinch the interim agreement it was just two to three months from the bomb. The number of centrifuges of the old and outdated models at the uranium-enrichment sites in Natanz and Fordow will be reduced to a third of the current inventory to 6,000 from 19,000.Iran is forbidden to enrich uranium above 3.6%; its enriched uranium will be dwindled from 10 tons to a mere 300 kg.; and the nuclear reactor in Arak will be redesigned and won’t be able to produce sufficient plutonium as fissile material.As for international inspection, even if it is not insufficiently intrusive, it still will be tighter than it is now.If Iran honors the deal, the chance of a nuclear race in the Middle East by countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey will be slimmer.But Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has decided to take a different path. Instead of working hand in hand with the international effort to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and claiming victory, it has preferred to be left alone.Israel is opposed to the agreement. To any agreement.Netanyahu tried to create a wedge between the US president and Congress and failed. Israel exaggerated the Iranian threat and portrayed it in monstrous proportions.Netanyahu said Monday night that Iran not only aspires to impose it hegemony in the region, but to control the entire world.True, it would have been better without a deal in the first place. As far as Israel is concerned, it was preferred that sanctions remain forever.But Israel is not the center of the universe – the big powers have their own interests and sometimes they don’t listen to the Jewish state’s warnings, just as Israel, in many instances, is not attentive to requests from other nations, including its allies; for example, the Palestinian question.The nuclear deal in the making is far from perfect, but the skies are not going to fall tomorrow.Israel remains the strongest and most technologically advanced state in the Middle East. And, according to foreign reports, it has an impressive arsenal of nuclear warheads.It is also true that lifting the sanctions will help revive the Iranian economy. But, according to estimates by US economists, the recovery will be slow.It is very unlikely that a dramatic shift in Iran’s rush for a regional hegemony will be seen. Its ambition is already high.The deal will not increase Iran’s grip on Hezbollah, which is already full. Its support for terrorist groups and its subversive attempts to undermine and destabilize countries will not necessarily be enhanced. They are already in full gear.These efforts, after all, are a double-edged sword – the more Iran intervenes in other countries’ domestic problems, the likelier it will be bleeding itself. Look at what happens to Iran in the Syrian mud, Yemenite slippery slopes and Iraq.It is rather surprising to hear our leaders expressing fears about what will happen upon expiration of the agreement 10 years from now when they cannot say what will occur two or three months down the road on our borders with Gaza, Golan, Sinai or Lebanon.All in all, it is possible to estimate that at least two tangible results will emerge from the nuclear deal – the military- security establishment will demand that its budget be expanded and Israel will ask the US to supply it with a security compensation package, exactly as the cabinet minister suggested eight years ago.
What does the Iran nuclear deal mean for Israel?