Moses said to the people in his final charge "I put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life...Be strong and resolute..for the Lord will not forsake you" Deut. 30 and 31. Former US National Debate Champion and Ordained Rabbi tackles issues of Public Policy, Israel, Islamic Terrorism, Antisemitism, Jewish Wisdom and the Chicago Bears
Proponents of the nuclear deal with Iran claim that it is the best one possible. They also say that the international sanctions on Iran could not have been maintained indefinitely, and that Europe, Russia and China would soon violate them. The deal’s advocates have accused Israel and other critics of failing to propose an alternative to the current agreement. And, most radically, they warn that either America accepts this deal or goes to war.
None of these assertions is true.
Instead of blocking Iran’s path to nuclear weaponry, the deal, in fact, provides two paths. Under its terms, Iran could develop advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium at 20 times the current rate. By repeatedly exploiting the 24-day head start that the deal affords Iran before it has to let international inspectors visit a suspected site, the ayatollahs could cheat and make a bomb well within the deal’s 10-year time frame.
Or Iran could comply with the agreement and emerge with all of its nuclear facilities intact and thousands of advanced centrifuges that can produce an entire arsenal of bombs in virtually no time at all.
And while Iran likely chooses between these two paths to atomic bombs, its neighbors, beginning with Saudi Arabia, would rush to acquire their own. The result would be a strategic arms race that would transform the already unstable Middle East into a nuclear powder keg.
In the interim, Iran would be released from the sanctions that took the world a decade to impose. These cannot be “snapped back” if Iran were to violate the deal, as its defenders contend, but reinstated only after a lengthy international process that excludes all the contracts signed by Iran before it were to cheat. As such, the deal serves as an incentive for foreign companies to sign a great number of short- and medium-term contracts with Iran. The windfall is estimated to reach $700 billion, according to Israeli government sources.
That cash could be used by Iran to fund its global terrorist network, its efforts to overthrow pro-Western governments in the Middle East, and its continuing massacre of Syrians, Palestinians and Yemenis. The money could purchase the world’s most advanced weapons systems, all of which the deal would make available to Iran by eventually lifting the arms embargo. Iran could upgrade the 100,000 rockets in Hezbollah’s arsenal with independent guidance systems capable of targeting any site in Israel — oil refineries, airports, even the Knesset. The Jewish state will face its first conventional strategic threat in more than 40 years. Finally, Iran could invest in extending the range of its intercontinental ballistic missiles, the sole purpose of which is to carry nuclear warheads. Intelligence sources estimate that, in a few years, Iranian ICBMs will be able to hit the United States’ East Coast.
All of these activities could be coordinated by Iranian military commander Qassem Suleimani and Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, father of Iran’s nuclear weaponization program, whose United Nations sanctions reportedly are being lifted. Meanwhile, Iran’s centrifuges would continue to spin. And American security forces that once tried to penetrate Iran’s nuclear program would then — astonishingly, according to the deal’s Annex 3, Section D10 — be obligated to help protect it.
Could a better deal have been achieved? The answer — emphatically — is yes.
The biting sanctions enacted by Congress, and approved by President Barack Obama, halted the Iranian nuclear program. They also forced the Iranians to the negotiating table where they would have remained and made far-reaching concessions were the sanctions intensified or at least sustained.
These sanctions presented Tehran’s international customers with a choice: Either do business with Iran or with the United States. Russia, China and others might have protested continuing sanctions on Iran but, in the end, it is highly unlikely that they would have forfeited access to America’s $17 trillion economy to cut oil deals with Iran.
The Iranian military, with its mostly 1970s-vintage weaponry, posed no serious threat to the world’s largest and most sophisticated armed forces. A combination of robust sanctions and a credible military threat by the United States would have compelled the Iranians to make more far-reaching and substantive concessions than the few largely symbolic gestures contained in this deal.
These were the terms that Israel sought and communicated to American decision makers. We have the greatest interest in reaching a good diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear threat, and the most to lose from either a bad deal or a resort to force. After all, in any confrontation with Iran, Hezbollah and other proxies are poised to fire thousands of rockets at our homes.
Israel would have embraced an agreement that significantly rolled back the number of centrifuges and nuclear facilities in Iran and that linked any sanctions relief to demonstrable changes in its behavior. No more state support of terror, no more threatening America’s Middle Eastern allies, no more pledges to destroy the world’s only Jewish state and no more mass chants of “Death to America.” Israel would have welcomed any arrangement that monitored Iran’s ICBMs and other offensive weaponry. Such a deal, Israeli leaders across the political spectrum agree, was and remains attainable.
The alternative to this deal is not, as its supporters insist, war, but a better deal. Indeed, the present agreement will likely escalate, rather than avert, conflict. Already Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has pledged to continue Iran’s armed struggle against the United States. Iran Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan has sworn to prevent inspections of suspect Iranian nuclear sites. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, the only Arab leader to celebrate the deal, can continue to butcher his own civilian population with impunity.
It is not too late to prevent this catastrophe. But doing so will require leadership and clear-sightedness. Americans must be informed about the perils that this deal poses not only to the Middle East but to their own families. They must understand that at stake here is not personality or legacy, but rather the security and, indeed, the lives of millions. A good deal is still possible for those with the courage to forge it.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the press following the nuclear deal with Iran, at the PM's Office in Jerusalem, on July 14, 2015. (Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Israel forcefully rejected Thursday US President Barack Obama’s assertion that critics of the nuclear agreement with Iran have failed to present better options, arguing that a good deal is still possible if the international community, led by Washington, maintains the sanctions regime on Tehran.
“We have consistently laid out an alternative, which is a better deal that actually blocks Iran’s path to the bomb and links the lifting of restrictions on Iran to tangible changes in Iranian behavior,” a senior Israeli official said.
The official also disputed Obama’s contention that the entire international community backs the Vienna agreement, which the United States and five world powers signed with Iran on Tuesday. He also indicated that the Israeli government is convinced it can persuade US lawmakers to oppose the deal. “We believe we can win on the substance,” he told The Times of Israel.
Defending the deal at a lengthy press conference Wednesday, the president argued that critics of the agreement have not produced a better proposition on how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “For all the objections of Prime Minister Netanyahu, or, for that matter, some of the Republican leadership that’s already spoken, none of them have presented to me, or the American people, a better alternative,” Obama said.
The president added that he had yet to hear about a better solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff, arguing that there are only two options: the nuclear standoff can either be resolved diplomatically, through the deal the P5+1 world powers negotiated, or through war. “Those are the options,” Obama said.
But the senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, contested that argument, saying that the international community should have “held out for a better deal” by maintaining and even intensifying the sanctions in Iran and insisting they only be lifted after Iran demonstrates compliance with the P5+1’s demands.
The official also disagreed with Obama’s reasoning that it would have been impossible to keep up the international sanctions regime against Iran.
“We don’t believe that sanctions would collapse; on the contrary,” the official said, “we sincerely believe that the sanctions can be maintained in place, if there is American leadership on this matter.”
Because of the United States’ global economic power, its sanctions directly affect international economic behavior, he reasoned. “If you’re a German or a Swiss company and want to do business in Iran but in so doing have to give up on the American market, it’s a no-brainer. If forced to choose between the American or the Iranian economy, what are most rational people going to do?”