The bottom line of Netanyahu’s Congress address is that America can and should conclude a better deal with Iran by not lifting restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, by keeping the economic pressure on the Islamic Republic, and by threatening not to sign a deal at all. “They need the deal a lot more than you do,” Netanyahu insisted. Netanyahu’s argument is that America is the powerful side, that it can inflict economic pain on Iran, and that the prospect of economic collapse will eventually convince the Ayatollahs to sign an agreement that will leave Iran without thousands of centrifuges, without tons of enriched uranium, and without heavy water facilities – in other words without a short break-out capability.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi declared after the speech that she felt it was an “insult to the intelligence of the United States” and that it showed “condescension” toward the US commitment “to prevent nuclear proliferation.” Haaretz political analyst Yossi Verter wrote that Obama and Kerry emerged from Netanyahu’s speech as “naïve morons that fell prey to the charms of Persian bastards.” Netanyahu’s speech does indeed leave one wondering why the Obama Administration would even think of concluding the agreement reportedly taking shape with Iran. Either Obama and Kerry are convinced that America has no better option; or they are, simply, incompetent and irresponsible.
For Netanyahu, the emerging deal with Iran is unacceptable because it makes two fatal concessions: a. It would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and, therefore, with a short (i.e. less than a year) break-out time to the bomb; b. It would lift all restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program within a decade. As The Washington Postwrote recently: “a process that began with the goal of eliminating Iran’s potential to produce nuclear weapons has evolved into a plan to tolerate and temporarily restrict that capability.”
Another crucial issue mentioned by Netanyahu is that of Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. Those missiles are not even part of the negotiations. Iran has managed to focus the negotiations on its nuclear program, thus diverting attention from two other significant and related issues: a. Iran’s buildup of long-range missiles that can carry a nuclear warhead; b. Iran’s subversive activities (including support for terrorism) throughout the Middle East, in South America and in Africa. Hence Netanyahu’s insistence on not lifting sanctions on Iran until Iran ends its subversive activities.
A deal with Iran only makes sense if Iran can be trusted. The report published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a couple of weeks ago shows beyond doubt that Iran cannot be trusted. The report confirmed that Iran’s stock of low-enriched uranium keeps growing (it has reached an estimated 15,000 kilos); that Iran is developing a nuclear payload for a missile (in other words that Iran is working on a nuclear warhead); that Iran is hiding its military program; and that Iran denies the IAEA access to the Parchin military facility.
Parchin is not the only military nuclear site that Iran has been trying to hide from the West. On February 24, 2015, the Iranian opposition group MEK (which revealed in the past Iran’s secret nuclear facilities in Natantz and Arak) uncovered an underground facility near Tehran (called “Lavizan 3”) where Iran is developing a new generation of high-speed centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
Some claim that leaving Iran with a one-year break-out capability is safe because the US would be able to catch Iran on time. This assessment contradicts what former CIA chief Michael Hayden declared to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Nov. 20, 2014: “Absent an invasive inspection regime, with freedom to visit all sites on short notice, American intelligence cannot provide adequate warning of Iranian nuclear developments.”
Why, then, would the Obama Administration be so irresponsible? Likely because Obama wants an agreement before the end of his presidency. He wants an agreement more than the Iranians do. Hence Netanyahu’s rebuke: “They need the deal a lot more than you do.” Obama seems to think otherwise. Indeed, he is so determined to reach a deal that he is contemplating one that would clearly endanger Israel. This is why Netanyahu decided to go for broke.
It was a calculated risk, and one worth taking.
Reprinted with author’s permission from i24 News