Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Six-Month War

by Uri Heitner

The interim deal between the P5+1 nations and Iran over its nuclear program is bad news for Israel and for humanity. It allows Iran to become a nuclear threshold state with a stamp of approval from the international community, which has absolved Iran of all its guises and exploits until now. As a nuclear threshold state, within arms reach of a nuclear bomb, Iran is a threat to the world entire and especially to Israel. 

Even if it does not weaponize and stays a threshold state, the shadow it would leave over the Middle East spells disaster. In a Middle East where Iran is a nuclear superpower, there can be no peace. In a Middle East with a nuclear Iran, there will be no deterrence to terrorism. All actions in the Middle East would be taken "with caution," with a looming Iranian threat of "we will respond with full force if ..."

The interim deal, which in essence recognizes Iran's "right" to enrich uranium, crowns Iran a nuclear threshold state. It is an unprecedented achievement for the ayatollah regime, which found an easier way than former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's fiery rhetoric to achieve its goals. And in return, Iran gets a lifting of certain sanctions, worth billions.

The good news is that the interim deal is good for only six months and that most of the sanctions were not lifted. During this period it is possible to fix the twisted agreement and draft a new deal to strip Iran of its nuclear capabilities by threat of increasing the sanctions, to the point of a total economic boycott of Iran, and a military strike if need be.

The real bad news, however, more than the details of the lackluster deal itself, is the decline of the West: the Chamberlain-esque spirit of appeasement, which has come to define Barack Obama's United States and the West in general. The West's lack of will and resolve to fight for a better world, and its desire to appease Islamist fanaticism to achieve some quiet now and defer dealing with the problems until the next term, characterized the negotiations with Iran on the interim deal. Will this be the same attitude for the negotiations on the final deal as well?

The interim deal with Iran is a fact. We did not succeed in preventing it. It cannot be canceled or changed, and during the six months of the negotiations on a permanent deal, Israel will not be able to take any forceful action against the Iranian nuclear program. Therefore, Israel must use these six months to influence in any way possible the negotiations so that the results of the final deal will be different than the interim one: not a deal in which the world permits Iran to be a nuclear threshold state, but a deal that completely strips Iran of its nuclear capability. If there is no partner to this deal, it is better to have no deal at all.

We were not able to influence the interim deal and it is doubtful how much we will be able to shape the final agreement. But Israel has no alternative but to seek any possible way and find any opening to have their say. Israel succeeded in raising the Iranian nuclear issue to the international forefront and get the West to implement economic sanctions and threaten military action against it. The pressure on Iran caused it to change its tactics and tone and sit at the negotiating table. Israel did not manage to capitalize on its successes and ramp up pressure on Iran and make it halt its nuclear program altogether.

The signing of the interim deal with Iran marks a critical point, the beginning of the "six-month war" -- a diplomatic struggle to influence the permanent agreement. Obama is trying with all his might to prove Israel is wrong about its opposition and is offering Israel to take part in the dialogue about the final deal. We should answer that call, not to influence things on the sidelines, but to shape the fundamentals of the agreement. There can be no compromise on anything less than a complete stop to the Iranian nuclear program. Israel must do everything in its power, because a viable diplomatic solution will negate an Israeli military action, while a poor diplomatic solution will make it a necessity.

Uri Heitner


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