Over the years we have learned that when a politician or a general declares that “all options are on the table,” he is actually referring to a single option – the military option. Supposedly that’s the only option that will remain to Israel if the negotiations with Iran don’t produce a nuclear agreement that satisfies the political leadership in Jerusalem.
The sanctions did not bring the Iranians to their knees, the mysterious attacks against Iranian scientists and installations are not stopping the ayatollahs, and in Washington there’s a president who is keeping his distance from the Middle East. We’re left with the option of a direct military strike against the Iranian reactors, whatever the costs, in a loss of lives on the home front, in expenditures of billions of shekels and in damage to Israel’s foreign relations.
Has anyone read or heard about preparations for the possibility that Iran will announce that it accepts all the restrictions that the United States wants to impose on it; that in addition, it will allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit its nuclear installations without advance warning, and will even agree to extend the treaty by another 15 years – all that, on one condition: that Israel signs exactly the same document?
The Islamic Republic can also promise “not to be the first country in the Middle East to introduce nuclear weapons.” This Isra-bluff has been working beautifully for decades, as has the stamp of “according to foreign sources” on reports that Israel is equipped with dozens of atomic bombs ready for launching.
In an article published last week, Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the Iranian newspaper Kayhan and a person close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei, hinted at the option of “neither I nor you will have it.” He proposed that Iran delay the nuclear talks until Israel (and India, Pakistan and other countries) sign a convention to prevent the dissemination of nuclear weapons and give up their own.
“Why should Iran remain a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at a time when it can leave the agreement according to Article 10 of the convention?” Shariatmadari asked. According to Article 10, each party will have the right to withdraw from the convention if it decides that unusual events related to the subject of the convention have endangered its country’s supreme interests. There is an abundance of such events. For example, the press conference of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the files from the Iranian nuclear archive were stolen by the Mossad.
The editor’s words of the senior Iranian official were published shortly before the convening of the NPT Review Conference, which is held every five years and is scheduled for early January. Time and time again, these conferences bring up Israel’s refusal to sign the convention and reveal its nuclear facilities to the eyes of the world.
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Now the conference is expected to convene while the negotiations for a nuclear treaty with Iran are being conducted. In one place Israel will present the Iranian nuclear threat as a danger to world peace. At the same time the same country, which (according to foreign reports) has been up to its neck in nuclear power for years, will try to cause the initiative for nuclear demilitarization of the Middle East to fail.
With the exception of the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, not a single partner to the negotiations with Iran agrees with Israel’s position on demilitarization. Three years ago Russia and China were among the 88 countries that voted in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution calling for the convening of a conference for establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. There were 75 countries, including all those in the European Union, that refrained from voting on that decision, which called on the UN secretary general to convene an annual conference until a binding agreement is reached to establish the weapons-free zone. In addition to the United States and Israel, only Liberia and Micronesia voted against.
In response to that decision, Netanyahu declared that Israel would stop supporting UN decisions for establishing a nuclear demilitarized zone in the Middle East, nor would it participate in regional events dealing with the matter. Netanyahu relied on the automatic support of President Trump for Israel’s stand, and on the Abraham Accords with Iran’s rivals.
However, in the interim there has been a changing of the guard in the White House, and there are signs of a compromise in relations between Iran and several of its Gulf neighbors. U.S. President Joe Biden has taken a firm stand regarding demilitarization. In his first speech at the Munich Security Conference in February, he promised that the issue would be at the center of his administration’s agenda. A document published by the White House in March defined nuclear weapons as an “existential threat” and stressed the role of U.S. leadership in reducing it.
As far as is known, the decision makers in Jerusalem, those who declaim that “all options are on the table,” did not consider the possibility that Iran would pull out the doomsday weapon: an overall agreement for nuclear demilitarization of the Middle East – including Israel – and acceptance of all the demands. It’s much sexier on television to show helmeted pilots talking about preparations for war.