March 3, 2015


The Iranian nuclear deal looks like a reasonable compromise (Avner Cohen, Mar. 2, 2015, Ha'aretz)

True, the deal is not optimal for Israel, far from it, but overall there are potential advantages. True, a few matters may need improving and explaining here and there, but in general it's a reasonable compromise. [...]

For Israel, the biggest disadvantage of the agreement is that it does not strip Iran of its nuclear assets. Netanyahu has repeatedly demanded "no enrichment," but everyone knows this is just rhetoric with no political horizon or legal foundation. There is no source for such a demand in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Despite this disadvantage, the agreement still reduces and limits Iran's nuclear assets to a lower level than in the interim agreement.

True, the agreement also grants Iran legitimacy as a nuclear threshold state. But we must remember that Iran was already a nuclear threshold state before it signed the interim agreement. In any case, the question of a threshold state is the original sin that derives from the ambiguity in the Nonproliferation Treaty itself. The treaty bans the development of nuclear weapons but does not explicitly ban member nations from becoming threshold states.

The agreement also contains unique advantages barely discussed in Israel. It clearly distances Iran from a nuclear bomb -- from a few weeks as was the case in 2012 to about a year. Most importantly, it establishes a regime of safeguards and transparency for almost a generation. After that, Iran's nuclear status will be the same as for any other nonnuclear state under the Nonproliferation Treaty. True, this may not be ideal, but that's a problem for the very distant future, almost a generation away.

Despite its flaws, the proposed agreement is far from bad for Israel -- the only nuclear power in the Middle East -- but it is very bad for Netanyahu. The agreement offers Israel almost a generation, or even more if it succeeds, in which Netanyahu won't be able to sow fear about Iran as an existential danger. It would leave Netanyahu as a leader whose raison d'ĂȘtre has been taken away from him.

Posted by at March 3, 2015 5:39 PM

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