Meir Javedanfar

Netanyahu’s star-spangled red lines

Although in words the current Israeli and US governments disagree, in reality, they are operating along the same lines and understandings

On Thursday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not only talked about his red line on Iran, he drew it for the international community with a big red marker.

The red line he drew marks the point at which Iran will increase its current uranium enrichment levels.

Currently, Iran is enriching at 20%. This could be used both for civilian and military purposes.

If Iran moves beyond 20% enrichment toward 90% then that would clearly be for the construction of a bomb.

The point where Iran moves beyond 20% and towards 90% is where Netanyahu has stated that it would be crossing a red line.

The first question that must be asked is whether we would even know about such an Iranian initiative? Netanyahu said no.

The answer, however, is yes. Iran’s current enrichment facilities are under inspection. The only way Iran could hide such a move would be by kicking out the IAEA inspectors. This would alert the entire international community. Israel, alongside everyone else, would find out.

An Iranian unilateral expulsion of IAEA inspectors could lead to an attack by the United States against Iran’s facilities, as President Obama has stated clearly that when it comes to a nuclear Iran, “containment is not an option.”

In other words, Netanyahu’s red line is not so different from that of the US.

This could be a clear sign that although in words the current Israeli and US governments disagree, in reality, they are operating along the same lines and understandings.

The fact that Netanyahu did not commit himself to a red line on Iran is another common feature between him and Obama. This is despite the fact that Netanyahu drew the line with his own hands.

This should give more impetus for the cessation of the current rift between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama. It only causes damage, and as the context of Netanyahu’s red lines showed, the details of the rift over red lines is becoming increasingly meaningless.

About the Author
Meir Javedanfar is an Iranian-Israeli lecturer, author, and commentator. He has been teaching Iranian politics at Reichman University in Israel since 2012 and is Anti-Defamation League’s Iran consultant.