Former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin supports the West’s nuclear negotiations with Iran, which he says could delay a breakout military capability or prove once and for all that Tehran isn’t serious.
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In an article on the website of the Institute for National Security Studies, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yadlin stresses the need to ensure that Iran is years, not months, away from achieving a military nuclear capability. He also recommends cooperation with U.S. President Barack Obama on how the West would respond if Iran violated an agreement.
“A (good) agreement must be given a chance, even if it seems that the Iranian move is an exercise in deceit,” Yadlin writes. “Negotiations between the United States and Iran could go in three directions, two of which could be positive for Israel: a good agreement that would keep Iran far from the bomb, or a resounding failure that would grant legitimacy to other actions designed to stop the project.”
Yadlin says it’s obvious the Iranians won’t accept Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demands: “zero enrichment, removal of all the enriched material from Iran, the suspension of activity at the underground facility in Fordow and the reactor at Arak.”
Still, he says, “it is important to define an agreement that even if containing a certain risk that Iran could break out to military nuclear capability either under or in violation of the deal, still represents a significantly smaller threat than the dangers inherent in the status quo, which is likely leading to an Iranian bomb or to a military move to forestall it.”
According to Yadlin, Israel must prevent a “bad agreement.” For example, if the West seals a deal that preserves Iran’s current nuclear capability — 10,000 active old centrifuges and thousands more modern ones with greater output — “that is a bad agreement and is unacceptable. A freeze at this level and a functional Fordow are an excellent foundation for a bomb at any time Iran decides to withdraw from the agreement.”
Yadlin agrees that the harsh economic sanctions are the main reason Iran is engaging in talks. “The Iranians are looking for significant relief from the sanctions in exchange for a non-significant confidence building measure,” he writes. Yadlin says this method has failed in recent years, and the sanctions should be lifted only when Iran adheres to an agreement by downsizing its nuclear program.
“It is unclear what lies behind [President Hassan] Rouhani’s drive to reach an agreement on the nuclear problem in a few months, or [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei’s affirmation of the need for ‘heroic flexibility,’” Yadlin adds. “Do these signal a willingness to forfeit a military nuclear capability, or yet another attempt to attain this option at the lowest possible cost? For its part, Israel must guarantee that a diplomatic deal is sound enough, and ensure that diplomacy yields more than just a respite for Iran as its nuclear project progresses.”