Israel reacted in anger Monday to a hidden detail in the Iran nuclear deal which promises Western support and training to protect Iranian nuclear facilities from attack or sabotage, Israeli media reported.
According to Israel Hayom, the commitment in Article 10 did not appear in draft versions of the agreement. Israel National News noted it was buried on page 142 of the 159-page agreement.
“The US has to protect Iran as it pursues nuclear weapons because its program is allegedly civilian?” one senior official in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office fumed.
Iran’s nuclear program, which the Islamic Republic claims is peaceful in nature but which most Western allies doubt, has been subject to several sabotage attempts in the past, some successful. The crippling Stuxnet virus cyber-attack in 2010 has been popularly attributed to either Israel or US President Barack Obama. Now, the P5+1 are promising to help Iran defend against such attacks.
Article 10 appears in a section titled “Reactors, Fuels, Facilities, and Processes,” and stipulates that the P5+1 powers and Iran will foster “cooperation through training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to, nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems.”
According to National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Minister Yuval Steinitz, Article 10 is disconcerting because it is open to interpretation. Israel, he said, was focusing on “illustrating the fundamental deficiencies in the deal, such as in the provisions detailing oversight over Iran’s nuclear facilities, which require that [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors give Iran 24 days’ notice. It’s a joke.”
“The fact that 12 years from now Iran could be days away from a nuclear weapon, all in exchange for relative calm, means the world powers have legitimized [Iran’s] desire to become a nuclear threshold state.”
With a military response to Iran’s nuclear program becoming increasingly difficult, the P5+1 commitment is all the more significant. A top Iranian general announced last week that the Islamic Republic is developing defensive systems which would prevent an Israeli or American airstrike on its nuclear facilities. An Iranian paper also threatened that any attack would result in the US being “destroyed in under 10 minutes.”
Netanyahu convened the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet on Sunday to discuss Israel’s options in response to the deal. He noted that US Congress still had the power to block the deal.
“If anyone thought the far-reaching concessions offered to Iran would make it change its policies, they were proved wrong by Iranian leader [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei’s defiant and aggressive speech over the weekend,” Netanyahu said. “The Iranians have stated, in no uncertain terms, that they will continue to fight the U.S. and its allies, primarily Israel.”