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Why the nuclear deal is good for Israel
Avishay Ben Sasson-Gordis
What`s in the Iran deal and why it is better for Israel than any relevant alternative
Download the full analysis in PDF format
The agreement between Iran and the P5+1 will determine the future of Iranís nuclear program for the next few decades. While negotiations were still under way, Netanyahu declared that the deal as it was taking shape spelled an end to the State of Israel. More than a few in the opposition joined in the doomsday predictions. However, senior officials in Israelís defense establishment hold that the deal would actually reduce the threat posed by Iran, freeing resources to deal with other threats. Conversations with senior security experts indicate that many of them share the view that given the realistic alternatives, the deal is in fact good for Israelís security. A sober analysis of the agreement announced today confirms this judgment.
According to the terms of the agreement, Iran will require one year to accumulate the fissile material needed to create a nuclear device and will stay in that position for ten years, under close supervision. After that timeframe elapses, international supervision will continue.
When talks began, Iran was a month and a half away from accumulating the amount of material needed for assembling a nuclear weapon. Had negotiations, adamantly opposed by Netanyahu, never begun, Iran would now be even closer to that point. Thanks to the talks, Iranís nuclear program has been scaled back for the first time in over a decade. In other words, if the West had heeded Netanyahuís advice and not begun the last round of negotiations, Iran would now be much closer to achieving military nuclear capabilities.
There is no better option. The existing alternatives are much worse:
Continuing as before: Without a deal, Iran would be even closer to a bomb and additional sanctions would be blocked by Russia and China (who refused to tighten the sanctions without negotiation). In any round of future talks, Iran would be closer to a nuclear weapon, and therefore in a stronger position to negotiate.
An Israeli attack on Iran: According to the most optimistic estimates, an Israeli attack would delay the nuclear plan by three years. The price would be war with Iran, likely flanked by Hezbollah and some of the militant groups in Gaza. After two years, Iran could breakout and create a nuclear weapon with a perfect excuse as to why it needs it. An attack would therefore not help Israel, certainly compared to a deal that would delay the nuclear program for an entire decade and leave a wide berth for Israel and the U.S. to act upon Iranian breach of the agreement.
A U.S. attack on Iran: Such an attack would roll the nuclear program back for some four years, after which the U.S. would have to repeatedly attack again. However, the U.S. will not attack without Iran violating a deal. As Mitt Romneyís reluctance to commit to a strike in Iran during his 2012 presidential campaign demonstrated, the next president, whether Democrat or Republican, will need a very good reason to drag war-weary Americans into yet another military campaign in the Middle-East.
Netanyahu claims that the agreement places Iran on the nuclear threshold in ten years Ė but without the deal, it would be there by now.
By adopting a rejectionist approach to the entire negotiation process, Netanyahu forfeited any way of influencing and improving the agreement. He also undercut Israelís ability to coordinate intelligence supervision over Iran with global partners, and limited the potential security guarantees that Israel would receive following a deal.
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