As usual, it takes a few days, but the haze of misinformation is beginning to clear and the true story is emerging:
The pushback against a nuclear deal between the six powers and Iran in Geneva Friday, Nov. 8 had many partners. Europe, Saudi Arabia, the Arab Emirates and Israel have bonded together against the Obama administration’s plans to mend US fences with Tehran in general and leave Iran with its nuclear components intact.
Holding Binyamin Netanyahu, France and Saudi Arabia responsible for stalling the deal as the only “culprits” served two US administration purposes:
1. Rather than taking on a broad international front, the administration found it more convenient to focus on one of its members, Israel and its prime minister, as the responsible party for holding up the first concrete deal ever negotiated with Iran on its nuclear program.
2. Presenting Netanyahu as the party in the wrong and the cause of Israel’s isolation gave his political opponents ammunition for clobbering him.
Still, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry show no inclination to meet America’s allies’ widespread demands to tone down their proposal, which essentially permits Iran to retain all the components for assembling a nuclear bomb, while enjoying a generous reward in sanctions relief for a six-month freeze.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius spoke on behalf of the other European powers present, Germany and Britain.
Even Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov presented an unusually low profile in Geneva, abstaining from words of support for the American position. Speaking on condition of anonymity, members of the Russian delegation agreed that the deal on the table was a bad one.
Sunday, Netanyahu hit back at his misrepresentation as the lone spoiler by revealing his contacts with the European powers represented in Geneva and his close cooperation with the Arabian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia.
“The world should pay heed when Israel and the Arabs speak with one voice. It doesn’t happen that often,” he said.
Washington sources admit that the group effort by Jerusalem, Paris and Riyadh to defeat the Obama administration’s Iran policy was a groundbreaker. One source noted that it had attained the unheard-of level of coordinated Israeli-Arab-European teamwork for mobilizing individual US congressmen and senators against the deal with Iran and in favor of tighter sanctions.
French member of parliament telephoned French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Geneva at the weekend to warn him that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would attack Iran’s nuclear facilities if the P5+1 nations did not stiffen their terms on a deal with Iran, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported Sunday.
“I know [Netanyahu],” the French MP, Meyer Habib, reportedly told Fabius, and predicted that the Israeli prime minister would resort to the use of force if the deal was approved in its form at the time. “If you don’t toughen your positions, Netanyahu will attack Iran,” the report quoted Habib as saying. “I know this. I know him. You have to toughen your positions in order to prevent war.”
Israeli officials were described as “furious at the Obama administration” over what seemed to be an emerging nuclear deal between the P5+1 countries (the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China, plus Germany) and Iran.
One official was quoted saying that “the Americans capitulated to Iranian maneuvering…. Kerry wants a deal at all costs and the Iranians are leading the Americans by the nose.”
Kerry’s visit to Israel had already been a rough one, in which he first stigmatized Israeli communities as “illegitimate” and then, on Israeli TV Thursday night, as The Times of Israel’s Raphael Ahren aptly put it, “appeared to come perilously close to empathizing with potential Palestinian aggression against Israel.” (Reactions by other Israeli commentators were titled “Kerry, give it a rest” and “Kerry: Stay home”.)
But the real stunner came on Friday when Jerusalem apparently got word of the deal that seemed to be taking shape in Geneva. It led to the canceling of a joint media appearance between Netanyahu and Kerry, and prompted, instead, a bitter exchange between them before Kerry headed off to the Swiss city.
The possible deal gravely worries Israel—and others with a realistic view of the situation—because it allows Iran to continue uranium enrichment (albeit at a lower level—now meaningless given Iran’s advanced centrifuges), continue the construction of its heavy-water reactor in Arak (aimed at producing plutonium bombs), while not requiring the dismantling of a single centrifuge.
At the same time, in “reward” essentially for nothing, the deal gives Iran sanctions relief far beyond what Israeli officials had been led to expect, reportedly including “the unfreezing of $3 billion of fuel funds, an easing of sanctions on the petrochemical and gold sectors, an easing of sanctions on replacement parts for planes and a loosening of restrictions on the Iranian car industry.”
So Israel was relieved when it turned out the deal—for the time being—had fallen through on Saturday. But with the talks set to resume in nine days, trepidation remains high.
For Israel, after so many avowals of President Obama’s determination to prevent Iran from going nuclear, the latest turn of events is alarming and disillusioning. Many believe that, as long as diplomatic activity between the P5+1 and Iran is going on, Israel is effectively screened out of taking military action. Netanyahu had that in mind when he also said on Friday: “Israel is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and the security of its people.”
If the situation looks desperate and Israel takes that course, it will not be without (tacit) allies in the region.
A senior Israeli official said Sunday that the US was in a rush to reach an agreement with Iran over its controversial nuclear program because it feared that a military option would be the only alternative left if a deal failed to materialize.
“The Americans are anxious to sign a bad deal [with Tehran] because they are worried the only alternative left — without a deal — would be a military strike,” the official was quoted by Yedioth Ahronoth as saying Sunday
“The deal is very bad. There’s no doubt that if they [the world powers and Iran] sign now, Iran would become a [nuclear] threshold state [a state that can quickly assemble a nuclear weapon] and there would be no deal under which that would prevent Iran from pursuing its nuclear program,” the official added.
Talks are due to resume November 20.
Netanyahu has repeatedly said that the military option vis-a-vis Iran remained on the table and vowed to defend the state of Israel and the security of its citizens from what he perceives to be an existential threat should Iran acquire the bomb.
I have long pointed out that Barack Obama’s administration, and particularly president Obama himself, has been more than likely clandestinely communicating and working with the Islamic Republic of Iran much longer than just before the current nuclear talks, and even long before President Hassan Rouhani came to the United States to attend the UN General Assembly. Several national and international outlets have just released more details and reports on this issue.
These secrets talks, surreptitious letters, leading to confidential and classified negotiations between Obama and the Islamist leaders of Iran, were initiated long before the current nuclear talks, right after the current president of Iran was elected to office.
According to several outlets, including the Daily Beast, the Blaze, and the Washington Times, the White House— under the leadership of President Obama— started lifting and easing While it took several American administrations, the international community, the United Nations, and European countries to identify illicit institutions and actors in Iran who have abused the international financial sector, the Obama administration is quietly reversing these processes.
The Obama administration’s policy of quietly lessening financial pressure on Iran has significantly emboldened the position of Iranian Islamists in the international arena.its sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran right after President Hassan Rouhani took office.
While the Obama administration denies that they sent a secret letter to Khamenei, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed that Tehran did receive the secret letter to the Supreme Leader. Furthermore, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, pointed out, US Secretary of State John Kerry is currently pushing for an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, which will ease sanction on Iran without even asking Tehran to slow down its nuclear activities.
The secrecy of the Obama administration’s work with the Islamist leaders of Iran is bringing, and will continue to bring, further severe repercussions for American national interest, which will just intensify as these clandestine communications networks continue to occur. Some of the negative backlash to this event is aimed at how the Obama administration is alienating its regional allies, particular Israel, through these acts. By these secret reliefs, the Obama administration is significantly assisting Iran in more quickly obtaining bomb-grade nuclear capabilities and weapons. The Obama administration is also breaking the number one rule in foreign service, in which United States prohibits its diplomat from contacting Iranian counterparts. Finally, and more fundamentally, this move has worked to embolden the Islamists’ position, weakening and damaging the American image.