The inevitable option-Only political Agreement will stop Iran’s nuclear program

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According to media reports, Iran has announced it will enrich uranium up to 20% level at the underground site in Fordow.

The likelihood that follow this declaration the current U.S. administration will attack Iran’s nuclear sites is extremely low. The current Military and political leaders in the administration assume that military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities will lead to a strong Iranian response that will endanger U.S. assets and lead to an escalation that is difficult to predict.

The fact that even the closest administration to Israel is unwilling to use force to stop Iran’s nuclear program, in an important indicator to anyone who thinks that the USA will solve Iran’s nuclear problem by military means.

There are other who believe that “maximum economical pressure” will force Iran to dismantle its nuclear program (given the dilemma it will seemingly face between it’s nuclear program and the survival of the regime), but this option has a “glass ceiling” given the consensus in the Iranian leadership that no one can challenge its right to develop nuclear capabilities. Iran, which has been kneeling under the burden of sanctions for over a decade, refused to discuss the right to enrichment on its soil, but it was willing to significantly limit its nuclear program and add strict oversight measures that would seemingly ensure the program remains as a civilian and not a military one.

Furthermore, the current situation in which Iran on the one hand is committed to nuclear restrictions on its nuclear program, and on the other hand does not enjoy the fruits of the nuclear agreement, will not be able to be maintained for long if there is no return to the JCPOA understandings.

Moreover, over the years, Iran has suffered unprecedented attacks against its nuclear sites, and yet Iranian nuclear scientists have demonstrated impressive rehabilitation capabilities.  This fact undermind the ability to roll back Iran’s nuclear program by kinetic means, given Iran’s ability to recover from these actions

Therefore, any policy must accept the unfortunate but realistic assumption that in any future scenario we will have to live with an Iranian nuclear program.The options of negotiations with Iran, is probably the only viable option  to limit it’s nuclear program.

This option has many disadvantages, notably economic relief and strengthening Iran’s current regime, but it significantly reduces Iran’s threat perception, the same perception that brought Khamenei to try and develop a nuclear bomb in the first place, and it will strengthen the more moderate voices in the Iranian regime. It will also allow the Israel to focus on other troubling aspects of Iran, like it’s regional activity, without fearing from Iran’s unconventional capabilities.

Israel needs to support the P5+1 in any future negotiations with Iran to ensure an agreement that will be based on three components – a significant extension of the agreement’s validity, strict monitoring of nuclear sites, and significant restrictions on Ira’s nuclear research and development capabilities.

The mere fact that after the U.S. left the nuclear agreement Iran is seemingly closer to the bomb than without it, is another indication of the benefits of the political option.Continuation of crippling sanctions will not change Iran’s perception of it’s nuclear program.Iran’s right to enrich uranium was accepted by the international community and the program itself is too robust to stop it by using any other mean rather than the political one.

About the Author
23+ years of experience in 8200, IDI Research Division and the Israeli Embassy in the US. Retired from the Israel Defense Forces Senior fellow at the Abba Eban institute.
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