IDF: Iran Deal Offers Risks, but Also Opportunities

Intelligence Corps is warning, however, that after expiry of nuclear agreement, Iran will be just weeks away from possessing full nuclear capabilities.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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An Iranian technician in the nuclear facility located outside the city of Isfahan, in 2007.
An Iranian technician in the nuclear facility located outside the city of Isfahan, in 2007.Credit: AP
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israel Defense Forces' Intelligence Corps has been preparing for the prospect of U.S. Congress approval of the nuclear agreement struck between the world's major powers and Iran.

An analysis by the corps' research department reveals that the accord poses a large number of risks, but also a number of opportunities for Israel's political leadership. It notes that one of the most problematic aspects of the pact relates to the immediate period after it expires. Israeli officials are particularly worried because of what they expect will be a potentially rapid Iranian move toward major nuclear capabilities at that time.

In the opinion of the Intelligence Corps, Iran will possess such capabilities just weeks after expiration of the deal, which in practice prohibits Iran from developing a nuclear bomb for 10 years.

One of the major risks entailed in approving the accord, according to the Intelligence Corps, is that Iran will become a "legitimate" country, a member of the community of nations. The IDF researchers note that in the context of the nuclear talks, the United States has engaged in dialogue with Tehran on other subjects related to regional issues, in the process, turning Iran into a country worthy of participating in such talks.

The accord will thus "institutionalize" the connection between Iran, on the one hand, and the U.S. and other Western countries on the other, affect the battles being waged in the Middle East and ratchet up tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The intelligence analysts also believe, however, that there are positive sides to the proposed agreement: most importantly, that in the initial period after implementation – on the assumption it does not violate the deal's conditions – Iran will be deprived of a military nuclear capability, and will also likely avoid supporting terrorist attacks aimed directly at Israel, but will instead be relatively restrained.

In the near term, the Intelligence Corps intends to step up activity to ascertain that, in advance of final approval of the nuclear accord and up until the time it is actually implemented, Iran does not deviate from the limitations imposed on it.

The IDF officials believe that certain elements not included in the accord would have been able to tip the balance and positively influence their analysis of it, particularly on subjects related to monitoring the implementation of its conditions and to issues connected with Iranian activity in the Middle East, including involvement with terrorism and arming of the Lebanese-based Hezbollah.

At the same time, along with progress on the nuclear pact, countries in the Middle East and its environs have been arming themselves with advanced technology and weaponry supplied by both Russia and the U.S., and by other Western countries – for example, France.

For their part, IDF officials have continued to convey messages recently opposing the future arming of countries bordering Israel. For example, officials in Northern Command have cited recent arms deals with Lebanon, including the transfer of anti-tank missiles there by the U.S., describing them as dangerous transactions in terms of the current security reality of the region, particularly in light of the closer ties between the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah.

In addition, Intelligence Corps officials believe that the Iran accord could accelerate the nuclear weapons plans of other countries in the region – Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt as well even as Jordan – although they are likely to focus on civilian applications.

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