With an interim agreement reached and signed in Geneva between the P-5+1 and Iran on Saturday, the US Government seems content while subsequent events clearly indicate Iran is not planning on keeping its end of the bargain leaving Netanyahu no option but to order a strike.
A couple of quick pen strokes signaled the sealing of the (interim) agreement in the early hours of Sunday after four long days of negotiations. Soon thereafter, near-euphoric headlines emerged around the world notifying the international community of this happening. Yet there is little to rejoice about.
There are inherent disagreements about the most basic of interpretations related to the agreement. Speaking at a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart after the deal was signed US Secretary John Kerry stated the following: “Let me be clear, this first step does not say that Iran has a right to enrichment, no matter what interpretive comments are made, it is not in this document”. Yet the Iranian Foreign Minister maintained: “We believe that the current agreement, the current plan of action as we call it, in two distinct places has a very clear reference to the fact that the Iranian enrichment program will continue and will be a part of any agreement, now and in the future”. In an almost exactly paradoxical statement to the one issued by Kerry, Rouhani said that “No matter what interpretations are given, Iran’s right to enrichment has been recognized” and that in a final deal, Iran’s nuclear enrichment would proceed “similar to the past”. Is the Obama administration blatantly ignoring these defiant statements to avoid military intervention at any cost or does it actually believe that the agreement holds credible value within the context of future negotiations?
As if this wasn’t enough, almost simultaneous to the finalization of the deal, Iran announced the building of two additional nuclear power plants. The reasons given for the building of these new reactors, while perhaps legitimate, are clearly a ruse to hide ulterior motives. According to the Fars News Agency, AEOI Deputy Chief Hossein Khalfi claimed that his country “will save seven million barrels of fossil fuel which amounts to about $700 million if each barrel of oil is priced at $100 after the launch of the Bushehr power plant”. What the article fails to note, is that construction costs for nuclear plants start at $10 billion, with additional billions of dollars in maintenance and running expenses in subsequent year basically eliminating the so-called ‘savings’ by the Iranian regime.
Many details of the agreement are blatantly being overlooked while they almost guarantee the possibility for Iran to attain nuclear weapons capability. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as members of the Israeli and International intelligence community have stated several times that allowing Iran to enrich uranium up to 5% will allow it to attain a nuclear breakout capability, something the international community will be powerless to prevent if and when it happens. The agreement however, allows Iran this option.
Additionally, the interim agreement is supposed to last for 6 months, following which a more permanent solution will be sought. Over the last month, multiple intelligence sources have claimed that Iran is about two months away from acquiring a bomb. Based on that assumption, the agreement is useless, since by the time a finalized agreement would be reached, Tehran will already have achieved nuclear arms capability.
Netanyahu strongly condemned the agreement saying it is a “historic mistake” and promised that Israel would stop the nuclear weapons program and is not bound by the agreement, quite possibly hinting at an Israeli military strike. When asked whether it would lead to a strike on Iran, Lieberman responded that Israel would “need to make different decisions”. Only very few in the Israeli political community, backed the deal.
Israel may have to defy the international community and in particular, the US in order to defend itself, if it feels threatened. Netanyahu has the support of his coalition, the support of his people and must go through with a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities if the situation becomes critical.