Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer this week defended his government’s positions that encouraged America to leave the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and supported Israel’s current position that the U.S. must leave a military option on the table and signal that Iran cannot develop nuclear weapons.
Speaking on Tuesday in a Zoom seminar held by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), in conversation with JINSA President and CEO Michael Makovsky, the former envoy said he stands by his previously expressed stance that U.S. withdrawal from the deal (also known as the JCPOA) under the Trump administration was the single-most important decision that any president had made for Israel’s national security.
While that decision didn’t end the Iranian threat, it was a “critical means to an end” because the JCPOA provided a legal framework for Iran to achieve nuclear status once the deal’s provisions ended, rather than block it entirely, he said.
Makovsky said that Iran is getting very close to a nuclear bomb, having enriched Uranium to 90 percent — one of the red lines that those discussing Iran were hoping would not be reached.
Dermer noted that even according to the former President Barack Obama, whose administration helped negotiate the agreement, when the deal’s provisions were scheduled to sunset, Iran would have had a breakout time of zero.
Breakout is defined by having the fissile material necessary to create a single nuclear weapon. This does not include the time it would take for Iran to build the nuclear weapon, which Dermer said some estimate as being an additional year to two years. The former ambassador also said it would be a mistake to assume the U.S. or Israel know how advanced Iran’s state of weaponization is.
“This deal did not block Iran’s path to the bomb. This deal ultimately paves and basically guarantees that Iran is going to become a military nuclear power,” Dermer said. “So, they actually haven’t solved the one problem everybody wants to solve, which is the nuclear issue. And they’ve also made the regional issue much worse because with the sanctions relief, Iran goes from facing essentially a headwind of sanctions, to now a tailwind of sanctions relief that allows them to fuel their war of aggression throughout the region.”