Two Opinions: Is Israel safer following the Iran deal?

Two Opinions: Is Israel safer following the Iran deal?

A missile is displayed by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, in front of a portrait of the Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (2013)
A missile is displayed by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, in front of a portrait of the Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (2013)

[divider]YES: Tehran has at last agreed to a rigorous inspections regime[divider]

Alistair Burt, Former British Middle East Minister

With much to gain, and most to lose, it is hardly surprising that Israel greeted the E3+3 interim agreement with Iran with wary scepticism. We know Iran. As a portrait of threat, Iran fits the bill. But look again. In a region where the term status quo is worthless, things change.

That is why this first step, interim agreement deserves a second look. Up to now, attempts to stop Iran’s nuclear progress have yielded little.

Yes, it has been retarded by clever cyber technology amongst other things, but not halted. A military strike would, evaluations suggest, succeed only in further delay – but at the incalculable cost of unintended consequences, not least the appalling prospect of Iran the martyr.

But a determined policy of tightening sanctions, supported by many nations, with similar wariness of the Iranians, has succeeded where there was previously much scepticism too, in bringing them to the negotiating table with serious intent.

The agreement means that the elements of Iran’s nuclear programme thought to present the greatest risk cannot make progress during the next six months. Enriching uranium over 5 percent will cease; Iran will not install or bring into operation advanced centrifuges that could enable it to produce a dangerous level of enriched uranium more quickly. It will not commission Arak.

No, it will not dismantle, but it will freeze, which is more than has been achieved to date. And some programme elements are actually rolled back, such as the eradication of around 200 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium that Iran has been building up for years.

And Iran has agreed at last to a rigorous inspections regime. This interim agreement allows for further work to be done towards a comprehensive settlement, the aim of that being full confidence that Iran’s programme is solely peaceful. Sanctions switched off can be switched on again.

All other options threaten a reneging Iran. We have lost nothing, and we could gain a lot. There was never going to be another way. You have to start somewhere, and with that start Israel might be on a safer path.

[divider]NO: This deal allows Iran to emerge as a regional power[divider]

Danny Danon MK, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister

The agreement signed in Geneva is an excellent one for the extremist ayatollah regime in Tehran. For us here in Israel this deal can only be described as dangerous.  Despite accusations that we are against any deal, no one has more to gain from a diplomatic agreement than us.

We fully support an agreement that ensures Iran will not obtain a nuclear weapon. Such a deal must include three non-negotiable elements: a dismantling of all centrifuges, extraction of all enriched uranium from Iran and a complete cessation of the activities of the heavy water reactor in Arak.

We are against this deal, however, which leaves the centrifuges in place, while dismantling the very sanctions regime that pressured Iran into the talks in the first place. While only a small part of the sanctions are being relieved right now, the cracks in the system will quickly lead to a windfall for the Iranian economy.

This will embolden the ayatollahs’ regime and only encourage their race towards a nuclear weapon. The smiles of Hassan Rouhani are deceptive. Iran has not wavered from its stated goal of wiping the State of Israel off the map.

Just last week Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei proclaimed the “Zionist regime” to be the “sinister, unclean rabid dog of the region.” The crowd enthusiastically responded with chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

This is the regime in which the P5+1 powers are placing their trust. The current agreement does not move Iran further away from a nuclear bomb.  Instead it ensures the emergence of Iran as a regional power that threatens all of the West’s allies in the Middle East. It will also likely lead other countries to push for nuclear military program and to build a “Sunni bomb” to deter the “Shia bomb”. We have the capability – and the responsibility –to defend ourselves using any means necessary.

If the west is mistaken about this agreement it will be unfortunate for Europe and the US. For Israel, such an error would be disastrous.  We cannot take that chance.

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