Israel may benefit from direct negotiation between the United States and Iran on the Islamic state's nuclear program, former Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin has said.
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Yadlin, now the director of the Institute of National Security Studies, said in a new research paper published on Thursday, that the prospect of reaching an understanding between Washington and Tehran would be a "positive development."
Last week, the New York Times revealed that the U.S. and Iran have made headway in the diplomatic effort to avoid military confrontation over the latter's attempts to develop nuclear capacity. According to the report, which has been denied both by the White House and the Iranian government, the two countries agreed to meet after the U.S. presidential election next month.
In the paper, which Yadlin co-wrote with Avner Golov, the authors say that Israel shouldn't rule out this diplomatic effort, even if its success is not guaranteed. Israel has so far dismissed the New York Times report, saying that Iran is trying to "buy time."
"Iran is using talks to advance its nuclear program," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday in response to the report. "I have no reason to believe that in talks with the U.S. Iran would behave differently."
However, Yadlin and Golov argue that if Iran did agree to hold direct negotiation – which it has so far deny – it would mark a significant policy change. "This degree of backpedalling, a complete U-turn from its official policy, is indicative of the effectiveness of the pressure exerted on Iran, and a signal of its capacity to bring about real change in the country's policy."
Whether it succeeds or fails, direct negotiation would be a welcome alternative to "extreme options that are currently on the table: 'a[n Iranian] bomb or a [Western or Israeli] bombardment'," the writers also said. "If the negotiations fail, the argument that all other options have been exhausted will be stronger, and there's no way to prevent Iran's nuclearization except a military strike." Yadlin and Golov say that clear indication of success or failure should be set out from the outset.
However, they claim, in order to make sure that Iran's cooperation is not a ploy, the U.S. must insist on continued international monitoring of the Iranian nuclear facilities while maintaining an option for military action.