The Peres doctrine against Iran is still relevant - opinion

Shimon Peres reiterated his approach that Iran’s nuclear aspirations are not a purely Israeli problem, but a global problem.

 SHIMON PERES and Ariel Sharon in the Prime Minister's Office. The Iranian nuclear issue was, even then, on the agenda of every diplomatic meeting. (photo credit: FLASH90)
SHIMON PERES and Ariel Sharon in the Prime Minister's Office. The Iranian nuclear issue was, even then, on the agenda of every diplomatic meeting.
(photo credit: FLASH90)

In 2001, I served as Shimon Peres’s close adviser when he was foreign minister in Ariel Sharon’s government. In this position, I accompanied him in the vast majority of the diplomatic meetings he had with heads of state and foreign ministers in Israel and around the world.

I recently went through some of the summaries of the meetings I documented and found that the subject of the Iranian nuclear issue was, even then, on the agenda of every diplomatic meeting.

The doctrine of Peres of 20 years ago was true then and is true even today and was based on several basic principles. Before his diplomatic interlocutors, Peres reiterated his approach that Iran’s nuclear aspirations are not a purely Israeli problem, but a global problem.

More than once in a conversation in one capital city or another, Peres presented to his colleagues the geographical distance from Tehran to that capital, while at the same time revealing the launch ranges of the missiles that Iran is developing and acquiring; missiles that can carry nuclear warheads and hit the heart of that capital.

Peres’s approach, which has been repeatedly stated, was that it is difficult to stop Iran’s ability to reach a nuclear threshold because “knowledge cannot be stopped,” but he demanded that the international community focus on launching capabilities and of preventing Iran from building an arsenal of nuclear-capable missiles that could reach anywhere in the world: to Tel Aviv, Washington and Moscow.

 GRAYEVSKY TOOK one of the last photographs of late president Shimon Peres. (credit: NOA GRAYEVSKY) GRAYEVSKY TOOK one of the last photographs of late president Shimon Peres. (credit: NOA GRAYEVSKY)

According to Peres, the imperialist aspirations of the Iranian government did not amount to a desire to rule Jerusalem, but to a desire for global hegemony and to have Khomeini Shi’ite Islam rule over the entire universe.

Looking at the situation today in the context of the Iranian nuclear program, it seems to me that Israel has turned the global danger into a threat to Israel alone. Thus we were left quite alone in the campaign. 

Israel’s focus on Iran’s enrichment capability rather than launch capability is also erroneous – and does not contribute to the prevention effort. Even in the language of laymen, it is easy to explain that a country that enriches uranium, it claims for civilian purposes, should not develop missiles (including missiles with ranges of thousands of kilometers) capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The same view of 20 years ago, which was based on complete coordination with the United States, while maintaining the principle that “Israel has the right to protect the lives of its citizens” – is correct, and perhaps even more so today. The American security and diplomatic umbrella is a necessary condition for the denial of nuclear weapons from Iran.

We can inflate our chests every day with platitudes, but in the face of Chinese and Russian interests in the game against Iran, it is difficult and almost impossible for Israel to cope alone.

Coordination must be bilateral, and a political and security umbrella requires us to consider American interests. Hence a loud conflict with the US administration over a consulate in east Jerusalem could impair capabilities to prevent a nuclear deal from Iran. And God forbid that a connection be made between the two.

Government policy must also be based on the organizational memory stored in government ministries. Since all the minutes of the foreign minister’s talks are in the Prime Minister’s Office and in the Foreign Ministry, the current prime minister and the foreign minister should review them, learn from them and act in the best way to keep unconventional weapons away from Iran. 

You do not always have to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes there is a wheel that travels well, and you just have to keep it from getting a puncture.

The writer served as a special adviser to foreign minister Shimon Peres in 2001-2002.