The signing of the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers is worthy of the title “historic event.” However, it is an event that does not end with the signing itself, since the agreement is the start of a long, complex process whose purpose is to uproot the Iranian nuclear program and stop the Islamic Republic’s dash to nuclear weapons. Like every agreement, this one does not fulfill all the wishes of the sides. The six world powers will be forced to maintain their suspicions of Iran, to unceasingly supervise its actions and not let the whip of threatened punishment fall from their hands, in the event that Iran violates the agreement. Iran, for its part, will be forced to wait patiently until the powers decide it’s time to ease the sanctions further and allow the country to rehabilitate its economy.
The technical sections of the agreement regarding limitations on enriching uranium, the concession on the manufacturing of heavy water and the conversion of the already enriched material to fuel and gas may be the core of the agreement, but no less important is the willingness on both sides to solve the dispute diplomatically, and to give mutual trust a chance. Here lies the real turning point in relations between the West and Iran, which was seen in the character of the negotiations, the thawing of relations between Iran and the United States, the direct dialogue and recognition by each side that it was sitting opposite a rational actor that had its own political and diplomatic interests.
Israel also made an important, even essential contribution to the pact. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded during recent years in convincing most of the world’s nations that the Iranian nuclear threat is real, and that an Iranian bomb would endanger not only Israel, but the MIddle East and in truth the entire world. Israel’s call to impose severe sanctions and its threat to use force, even without international support, heightened the sense of urgency and ultimately advanced the agreement’s success.
Nonetheless, just as Netanyahu instilled in the world powers a commitment to Israel’s security against the Iranian threat, he must now adopt the result of these efforts, give the agreement a chance and strengthen the likelihood that an agreement with Iran is preferable to a threat without an agreement. Netanyahu’s rushed response - “What was achieved last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it was a historic mistake,” and the claim that the agreement “threatens many countries and of course Israel among them. Israel is not obliged to the agreement” - is destructive.
Automatic opposition and threats isolate Israel, and weaken its power to influence future agreements with Iran, which will be even more important than this one.
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