Iran deal a failure, says ex-national security chief
If Geneva gamble fails, only military option will remain, says PM's former top adviser

Iran deal a failure, says ex-national security chief

Yaakov Amidror claims concessions over uranium enrichment ‘meaningless’; Obama reportedly tells Netanyahu ‘to take a breather from his clamorous criticism’

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Former National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, October 14, 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)
Former National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, October 14, 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)

The former head of the Israeli National Security Council took to the pages of The New York Times to rail against the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, calling the accord a diplomatic failure that missed the mark in diverting Tehran’s nuclear weapons program.

In an opinion piece published Thursday, Yaakov Amidror listed the reasons the agreement, signed in Geneva at the beginning of the week, had failed to achieve anything significant.

“Iran made only cosmetic concessions to preserve its primary goal, which is to continue enriching uranium,” he wrote. “The agreement represents a failure, not a triumph, of diplomacy.”

According to the terms of the agreement, some of the international sanctions currently imposed on Iran are to be eased, a move Amidror said would bring a rush of foreign business to Iran leading to the collapse of all the economic restrictions against the Islamic Republic.

“Might economic relief, reduced isolation and new goodwill lead to greater pressure on the Iranian regime to reach a fuller agreement later?” he asked. “I doubt it… Anyone who has conducted business or diplomatic negotiations knows that you don’t reduce the pressure on your opponent on the eve of negotiations. Yet that is essentially what happened in Geneva.”

Amidror’s remarks in The New York Times came amid heightened tension between the US and Israel over how to thwart Iran’s nuclear program. Netanyahu voiced staunch opposition to compromising with Iran in the run-up to the Geneva talks, and called the deal world powers signed earlier this week a “historic mistake.” Obama, without naming Netanyahu, then criticized the “tough talk and bluster” from critics of the deal.

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote Thursday that as negotiations move forward to solidify the interim agreement with Iran, Israel remains a “wild card,” and called Netanyahu’s outspoken dismissal of the agreement “clamorous criticism.”

“Obama has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a breather from his clamorous criticism and send to Washington a team that can explore with US officials a sound end-state strategy,” Ignatius wrote. “Perhaps the United States and Israel need a back channel, outside the bombastic pressure campaign by Israeli advocates.”

The prime minister’s former national security adviser, who stepped down earlier this month, claimed that under the terms of the deal Iran will be able to maintain its thousands of centrifuges and even work on upgrading them just so long at they are not installed in uranium enrichment plants. In practice, that means Iran’s uranium enrichment capability will remain at its current level, meaning it would be available for use whenever Tehran needs it.

Israeli sources quoted in a Maariv report Thursday morning contended that the measures Tehran agreed to would only set its back by two weeks should it attempt to manufacture a nuclear weapon. “Should the Iranians decide to ignore the understandings reached with world powers in Geneva, they can enrich the low-enriched uranium they have to military levels and acquire the fissile material necessary for a bomb within just over a month,” the paper reported.

To compound the problem further, the agreement signed between Iran and the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany does not require Tehran to reduce its stockpiles of 3.5% enriched uranium which, Amidror assessed, is already two-thirds of the way to bomb-making material.

“Given the thousands of centrifuges Iran has, the regime can enrich its stock of low-level uranium to weapons-grade quality in a matter of months,” Amidror wrote. “Iran already has enough of this material to make four bombs.”

Although the US has the weapons needed to take out Iran’s nuclear program, Western allies find the idea of using them abhorrent, Amidror argued.

“While the Obama administration maintains that the military option is still on the table in case Iran does not comply with the new agreement, that threat is becoming less and less credible,” he said.

However, without the pressure that sanctions offered, that theoretical military option may become all that stands in the way of nuclear-equipped Iran, he speculated.

“The West has surrendered its most effective diplomatic tool in exchange for baseless promises of goodwill. I pray its gamble pays off, for if it does not there will be only one tool left to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

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