A senior Israeli government official has told Kol Israel this morning that he doubts the Obama Administration’s commitment to prevent Iran “at any cost” from attainting a nuclear weapon.
The official explained that the Administration’s behavior in Syria, in complete contradiction of President Obama’s declarations, shows Israel that it cannot rely on American promises.
The senior official added that Israel could execute a strike against Iran without American operational support, but such an attack would be less effective than an American operation.
Israel is extremely concerned that the U.S. might be seeking direct negotiations between Washington and Tehran, leading to easing the sanctions against Iran in return for Iranian concessions that would fall short of Israel’s demands.
It’s likely that the high level official’s statement is an expression of the Netanyahu government’s anxiety over the glee with which the Obama Administration has welcomed the election of a new Iranian president. A White House statement following the inauguration of President Hasan Rouhani Sunday read:
“We congratulate the Iranian people for making their voices heard during the election. We note that President Rouhani recognized that his election represented a call by the Iranian people for change, and we hope that the new Iranian Government will heed the will of the voters by making choices that will lead to a better life for the Iranian people. We do believe that his inauguration presents an opportunity for Iran to act quickly to resolve the international community’s deep concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. And, as we’ve said all along, should the new government choose to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations, we are ready to talk to them when they are ready to do so.”
Direct talks, as suggested by the White House statement, always begin with “confidence building measures,” and the Netanyahu government must be worried that it would be picking up the tab on the new couple’s honeymoon.
In the State Dept. daily press briefing yesterday, Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf was asked: “The Israeli Government said over the weekend it does not trust Rouhani because of statements which they say indicate, again, an existential threat to Israel’s existence. Is the U.S. taking that concern under consideration when it looks at how it might want to engage with Rouhani?”
Harf answered that the U.S. will take “the whole range of security concerns, the security problems Iran has presented for the region into account,” when it decides how to deal with the new Iranian Government. She reiterated that it’s important “to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon because of the threat they could pose to Israel, to the region, and indeed to us as well.” But, finally, hope sprang eternal, and Harf acknowledged that the U.S. is “waiting to talk to them when they are ready to engage substantively.” Meaning – one on one.
Harf was next asked “What’s the first step that you would want to see Rouhani take on the nuclear issue?”
“We have a proposal on the table,” she said. “We’ve had it on the table for some time and we’re waiting for a substantive response from the Iranian side on how to move forward. And we’ve been clear that that’s what needs to happen next.”
All of which suggests that the Supreme Leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei has played a brilliant game in picking his new “moderate” president.
Khamenei made Rouhani chief of Iran’s nuclear negotiations in 2003, for the same reason he made him president this time around – the man can talk a candy out of the western babies’ hands. Rouhani ran the negotiations between Iran and three European states in Tehran and continued later in Brussels, Geneva and Paris.
Rouhani’s team back then was described as “the best diplomats in the Iranian Foreign Ministry.” They prevented further escalation of accusations against Iran, and so prevented Iran’s nuclear case from going to the UN Security Council. They figured out how to temporarily suspend parts of Iran’s nuclear activities to appease the West.
And so, while building confidence, insisting on Iran’s rights, reducing international pressures and the possibility of war, and preventing Iran’s case from being reported to the UN Security Council, Iran succeeded in completing its nuclear fuel cycle and took groundbreaking steps to produce a nuclear weapon.