There’s a new crisis brewing between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Iran talks, and the attempts on both sides to conceal the magnitude of it are failing. This is, essentially, the Munich, 1938 event, except that in this version Bibi is playing the role of Czech president Edvard Beneš, and he’s not accepting his fate quietly.
There’s no doubt that Netanyahu has made a crucial decision, as he was following the Geneva talks last week, to stake the future of Israel’s relationship with this Administration on his conviction that a nuclear Iran presents an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Secretary of State John Kerry has already begun making the case that an Iranian agreement to temporarily freeze some of its nuclear project, in exchange for a shower of financial gifts in the form of easing Western sanctions, “would be a viable step toward negotiating a permanent end to any Iranian nuclear weapons ambitions,” the Washington Post reported this morning.
Bibi is feeling swindled by the pair of con artists, Obama and Kerry. He had a deal with those two: Israel would play along with the Palestinians, release more than a hundred prisoners with innocent Jewish blood on their hands, and engage in an honest attempt to bring about the two-state solution – in exchange for an American commitment to do all it can to bring Iran to its knees on the nuclear issue.
In choosing between two existential issues, Netanyahu figured Israel could deal with a Palestinian state as its neighbor—because that’s where the talks were expected to go—provided that it didn’t have to defend against a nuclear Iran aiming its ICBMs at Tel Aviv.
According to Ma’ariv, the seeds of suspicion were sown back on September 30, during Bibi’s meeting with Obama. Despite the efforts back then to present the meeting as good and productive, Netanyahu came away with the notion that the big swindle—America sticking Israel with the peace talks while welcoming Iran back into the family of nations—was only a matter of time.
Speaking to the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly Sunday Night, Netanyahu described the effectiveness of the U.S. sanctions against Iran:
“They put together a sanctions regime that has brought Iran to its knees, crippling sanctions. The purpose of those sanctions was to get Iran to dismantle – dismantle – its nuclear enrichment capabilities, which are used for atomic bombs and its heavy water plutonium reactor, which is used for atomic bombs.”
After the Bush Administration has failed so miserably to put an end to the North Korean nuclear program, getting pulled by the nose time after time; and after a decade in which the very man who now serves as Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, used a bag of tricks jam-packed with delaying tactics, mishaps, misunderstandings and outright lies to deceive the world and give his country’s nuclear program all the breathing room it needed – it would make perfect sense that the West would insist on nothing short of dismantling the Iranian nukes.
“This is what the sanctions are for,” Netanyahu argued last night. “They’re not for preventing civilian nuclear energy or medical isotopes. I suppose Iran is building those ICBMs in order to launch medical isotopes to the Iranian patients orbiting the Earth. It is to prevent fissile material – that’s the material that you put inside an atomic bomb – that’s what those sanctions were about. To dismantle the centrifuge installations, underground military installations, centrifuge halls, and the plutonium reactor.”
Netanyahu was livid when he said last night: “What is being proposed now is a deal in which Iran retains all of that capacity. Not one centrifuge is dismantled. Not one. Iran gets to keep tons of low enriched uranium and they can take these centrifuges, which are not dismantled, in the halls, underground, which are not dismantled – using advanced centrifuges that they’ve already installed, some of them, that are not dismantled – and they can rush within a few weeks, maybe a couple of months, that’s all, and create at the time of their choosing, the fissile material for a bomb.”
“We are not blind, and I don’t think we’re stupid,” Kerry told the Washington Post. “I think we have a pretty strong sense of how to measure whether or not we are acting in the interests of our country and of the globe.”
That’s not how Bibi sees it. last night he cautioned: “What is Iran targeting when it’s building those ICBMs? Not us. They already have rockets to reach us and missiles. They need those ICBMs to reach North America. It’ll take them a few years – not many by the way. And they could be nuclear tipped ICBMs. That’s the plan coming to a theater near you. Do you want that?”
Kerry vehemently rejected the accusations that the coming deal would endanger Israel and Saudi Arabia. He had nothing to say about America being in danger. He insisted: “We are absolutely determined that this would be a good deal, or there’ll be no deal. Now, that’s why it’s hard.”
The Obama administration is prepared to go with a deal that allows Iran to enrich uranium to the low level of 3.5 percent, according to the NY Times, as long as Iran agreed to other constraints on its nuclear activity. But the administration is not prepared to acknowledge at this point that Iran has a “right” to enrich.
From the Iranian point of view, the right to enrich is the same as the right to build a nuclear bomb – it is their inherent right and no one will tell them otherwise.
Which is the point Netanyahu was making: in Iran’s case, you either get them to fall on their knees and cry uncle, or you lose. In six months, well fed and looking nice and tanned again, they’ll climb back down into their plants and turn on the light switches.
Last night, he urged U.S. Jews to ‘do something about it,” go back home and tell their elected officials the Iran deal Kerry is pushing is a terrible idea.
“Iran must end enrichment at all levels, because they don’t need it,” Netanyahu insisted. “They must take out from their territory all the fissile material. They must stop the construction of the heavy water reactor in Arak. And Iran must dismantle the considerable military nuclear infrastructure, including the underground facilities and the advanced centrifuges.”
The White House is not pushing that very rational point of view, and the prime minister appears ready to go to war over it.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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