An observer could be forgiven for thinking that the Iranians had actually just fired a nuclear missile at Israel rather than agreeing not to build one.
Since before his election Benjamin Netanyahu has been preaching about the danger to Israel and the Western world a nuclear Iran represents. He hasn’t limited himself to just words. Through the stuxnet virus Israel attacked Iran’s nuclear program electronically while ‘someone’ decided it was open season on Iranian nuclear scientists and we saw them murdered in the streets in broad daylight. The world imposed harsh sanctions on the country all in an effort to persuade them to stop nuclear enrichment.
None of the above worked, in fact the Iranians redoubled their efforts, importing new centrifuges and constructing new enrichment facilities such as at Arak.
Now it turns out that the White House has been negotiating with the Iranians for over a year. They did it in secrecy, it says a great deal about the personal relationship between Obama and Bibi that the latter was left in the dark. One thing is clear, the Prime Minister is not happy with the interim deal that has just been signed;
What was achieved last night in Geneva is not an historic agreement; it is an historic mistake
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) November 24, 2013
Mistake or not the deal has been signed. What is not clear is why the Prime Minister is so incredibly unhappy. On the one hand his mortal enemy has declared to the entire world that it is going to abandon its quest for a nuclear weapon, including plans to build the Arak nuclear plant, accept international monitors and in general behave well.
The incentives provided to the Iranians are many and particularly difficult to swallow considering how many tens of thousands of innocent civilians their forces have been murdering in Syria and Iraq right now. But the point is they just agreed not to build nuclear weapons. In short we got what we wanted.
Here’s what Obama says Iran has committed itself to;
Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment, and neutralizing part of its stockpile. Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges—which are used for enriching uranium. Iran cannot install or start up new centrifuges, and its production of centrifuges will be limited. Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor. And new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran’s nuclear facilities, and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments.
Now Iran has to contend not only with international inspectors but also with the wrath of the Western world should it break its commitments. In the face of this the Prime Minister of Israel doesn’t sound like a powerful man with a range of options at his fingertips. He sounds like a man ranting and raving in the knowledge that he is powerless to affect events.
The more the Prime Minister speaks, the more he makes Israel look war hungry and aggressive while Iran looks passive and in search of the much vaunted “peaceful solution”. Ironically the Iranians look this way even while slaughtering innocents all over the Middle East and Israel exercises supreme self restraint. Once again this is why it is necessary to have an effective Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In spite of Israel’s vociferous protests the deal has been signed. Instead of making Israel even more isolated than she already is by lecturing some of the smartest people in the world Netanyahu should just be telling the world a simple truth; that while we in Israel very much hope Iran has genuinely abandoned her quest for nuclear weapons we also hope the international community has an effective backup plan for Iran reneging on the deal.
If they don’t I am sure Israel does.