Gwynne Dyer: Israeli officials condemn U.S.-Iran nuclear deal

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      “We are not blind, and I don’t think we are stupid,” said U.S. secretary of state John Kerry in response to fierce Israeli criticism after the first round of talks about Iran’s nuclear program earlier this month failed to reach a deal. Now the deal is done, and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is even harsher in his condemnation of Kerry’s handiwork.

      “Israel has many friends and allies,” said Netanyahu, “but when they're mistaken, it's my duty to speak out....What was achieved last night in Geneva (November 24) is not a historic agreement, it was a historic mistake. Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world took a significant step towards obtaining the world's most dangerous weapon.”

      What he meant was that the interim agreement implicitly recognizes Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful uses. But that right is already enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Iran has signed, and nobody ever thought that Iran was really going to renounce it. What was at issue was whether it would enrich its uranium to “weapons grade”— 90 percent pure—and make nuclear bombs.

      The “Plan of Action” signed by Iran, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, and the European Union ensures that it will not, at least for the next six months. All uranium enrichment above five percent is to be halted, and Iran’s entire stockpile of 20 percent enriched material—the potential feedstock for a “dash” to weapons-grade material—is to be diluted or converted to a form not suitable for further enrichment.

      Iran is not to install any more centrifuges (the machines used to enrich material), and large numbers of the existing banks of centrifuges are to be left inoperable. Even Iran's stockpile of 3.5 percent enriched uranium (for use in nuclear power reactors) is to remain the same between now and the end of the six-month period. And there will be no further work done on the Arak reactor, which might give Iran plutonium, and thus a second route to a nuclear bomb.

      Iran will also allow more intrusive inspections by International Atomic Energy Agency officials, including daily access to the key enrichment sites at Natanz and Fordow. All it gets in return is $7 billion worth of relief (about $100 per Iranian) on the sanctions that are crippling its economy. All the main sanctions will stay in place until a final agreement has been signed—if it is—six months from now.

      Iran can therefore make no further progress towards nuclear weapons while the detailed negotiations continue, if that is actually what Tehran ever had in mind. Yet Israeli officials are talking as if the United States has been both blind and stupid.

      On Sunday, Israeli intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz said that “Israel cannot participate in the international celebration, which is based on Iranian deception and the world’s self-delusion.” And Naftali Bennett, Israel’s minister of trade and industry, warned: “If in five years a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the agreement that was signed this morning.”

      This is so far over the top that you wonder whether the speakers even believe it themselves. Israel has talked itself into this obsession with Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons project—Israeli sources have been warning that Iran is two years away from a bomb at regular intervals for the past 20 years—but the constant talk about it has also served to draw attention away from Israel’s settlement policy in the Palestinian territories.

      Israel’s basic position is that the Iranian regime is entirely composed of evil terrorist fanatics who should never be allowed to have refined uranium of any sort. The only recourse is therefore to tighten the sanctions more and more until Iran’s entire economy and government crumble and a completely different sort of people emerge from somewhere to take over the country. No deal can be a good deal.

      Israel’s leaders are dismayed that they can no longer keep their allies and friends pinned in this extreme position, but endlessly quoting the ravings of former Iranian prime minister Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is not enough. They would have to demonstrate that Iran actually intends to attack Israel, and they cannot. So eventually their allies just moved without them.

      As Israel's Finance Minister Yair Lapid told Time magazine, “We’ve lost the world’s ear. We have six months, at the end of which we need to be in a situation in which the Americans listen to us the way they used to listen to us in the past.” But the game is not over yet. Israel’s influence in the U.S. Congress is still immense, and its Congressional allies are already talking about heaping more sanctions on Iran (in order to kill the deal, though they don’t admit that).

      President Obama could veto those new sanctions, of course, but he will find it a lot harder to get Congress to revoke the existing sanctions if the final deal is done six months from now. That’s why Iran gets so little relief from sanctions now in return for its concessions: Obama needs more time to work on Congress. But Israel may still win this tug-of-war.



      baldur dasche

      Nov 25, 2013 at 12:03pm

      This morning's headline: "Israeli Unease over Iran Agreement"

      Israeli unease is a world disease affecting some politicians in many countries - most notably the US Canada and Australia.

      D Ritchie

      Nov 25, 2013 at 1:20pm

      "Israeli sources have been warning that Iran is two years away from a bomb at regular intervals for the past 20 years"

      That says it all, no? Anything to deflect criticism for badly treating Palestinians. Yes, I know that the Palestinians are no angels either, but the Israeli sabre rattling is getting to be too much.

      New York or Madrid

      Nov 25, 2013 at 1:43pm

      If something happens in New York or Madrid in five years, there is a much more likely culprit closer to the Mediterranean than Iran.

      SPY vs SPY

      Nov 25, 2013 at 1:47pm

      In response to this Nuclear Limitation Treaty between the UN and Iran, the Israeli National Broadcasting Corp has stopped re-broadcasting 2 popular USA TV shows - "Lets Make a Deal and The Price is Right".

      These 2 TV Shows have been declared Anti-Semitic, Anti-Zionist and gravely endanger the Jewish State.

      These shows will be replaced with 2 new Israeli TV shows "Lets Not Make a Deal Till We Bomb Iran" and "Iran Can Never Pay a Price That's Too High as Far as we are Concerned".

      50 of the Worlds Largest Weapons Manufacturers have already signed sponsorship deals for these 2 new Israeli TV Shows.

      Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper has ordered the CBC to carry the 2 new Israeli TV Shows.


      Nov 25, 2013 at 1:54pm

      Rogue states revealed: USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia.

      Rogue state allies: any country in the West they can bribe or threaten to support their agenda. These are referred to in American media as "the international community."

      The rest of the world is (finally) beginning to ignore their bellicose war-mongering rhetoric.

      G Lewis

      Nov 25, 2013 at 2:01pm

      I really don't understand how Netanyahu is talking about. Doesn't Israel have nuclear weapons? Why are they not part of the Non Proliferation Treaty? Isn't Israel guilty of sending hit squads to assassinate people in other countries? Aren't they as guilty as everyone else they are accusing? And why do they need nukes anyway? Isn't their conventional military capable of wiping out any of their enemy's armies anyway?
      I'm not pro or con Israel or Palestinian or Iranian or anything else. When you look t it objectively (something that doesn't seem possible in that part of the world) none of it seems fair or reasonable. Of course, who said life was fair.
      At least there finally seems to be some semblance of progress being made here. Kudos to those who are trying to make a difference. Shame on those trying to continue the cycle of hatred.

      SPY vs SPY

      Nov 25, 2013 at 2:42pm

      This just in -

      The Israeli Government has just struck back at the President Obama for signing a Nuclear Limitation Agreement with Iran.
      The TV Show "Family Guy" has just announced that the Dog Character "Brian" has been killed while playing street hockey.

      Brian was hit by a car that the producers of "Family Guy" believe was driven by a member of the Israeli Mossad.

      President Obama has stated on many occasions that he watches Family Guy and that Brian was his favorite character.

      The White House morns the loss of Brian.

      Netanyahu has stated that more TV Characters that President Obama likes will targeted for assassination until Iran is bombed back to the stone age.


      Nov 25, 2013 at 5:54pm

      Israel and its allies could win in Congress and kill the deal, sort of. They could add sanctions while the US and its allies decide Iran is no longer a threat. So what would happen? America's allies plus Russia and China refuse to abide by sanctions and vote - with the US abstaining - to end the UN sanctions. That would leave the US isolated by Congress and AIPAC. And by the way, who do you think enforces sanctions? Enforcing sanctions is an executive responsibility. If Obama has the chutzpah to tough it out, he wins.


      Nov 26, 2013 at 6:40am

      John Kerry should get full marks for this and all his mid-east work, including Egypt. A remarkably plain spoken man for such an intellectual. A shame he hadn't beaten The Boy King for President in 2004. Also a shame that he is unlikely to be a candidate in 2016. He's much better than Hilary Clinton.


      Nov 26, 2013 at 8:54am

      I wonder why Dyer decided to give the JFK assassination 50th anniversary a miss in his most recent column?
      I also note there are some pro-Zionist readers of his recent column who given the thumbs down to the righteous opinions expressed by the readers of this article.
      It looks like the embattled Iranians have finally cried "Uncle" in agreeing to the terms of the "deal"[?]offered to them. If there was any justice in this world the UN should have embargoed Israel, not Iran, until they give up their illegally gained nuclear program and their illegal theft of Palestinian Lands. So I guess that must prove that the Jews are God's "Chosen People". How else can you explain it?