Defense minister rips into deal with ‘apocalyptic’ Iran

Moshe Ya’alon says nuclear agreement taking shape in Geneva is a danger to the West and to the citizens of Israel

Mitch Ginsburg is the former Times of Israel military correspondent.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL/FLASH90)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL/FLASH90)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon slammed the emerging deal between “messianic, apocalyptic” Iran and the six world powers on Monday, calling it “a great danger to the peace of the Western world” and “a danger to the security of the State of Israel.”

The contours of a framework deal, currently being hammered out in Geneva, would allow Iran to enrich uranium at a limited rate, with the restrictions ebbing over time.

The Associated Press reported Monday that “several officials spoke of 6,500 centrifuges as a potential point of compromise” and that “the strict controls could be in place for 10 years with gradual lifting over five.”

The easing could bring the number of centrifuges back up to the current 10,000, the news agency reported.

Israeli officials have long contended that the final stages of uranium enrichment, necessary for weapons grade fuel, can be done in small and easily concealable spaces, increasing the risk of a covert Iranian advance to full nuclear capacity.

Centrifuges enriching uranium (Photo credit: US Department of Energy/ Wikimedia Commons)
Centrifuges enriching uranium (illustrative photot: US Department of Energy/Wikimedia Commons)

In recent weeks, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to argue against the deal in a March 3 address to both houses of Congress, against the express wishes of President Barak Obama, Israeli aides to the prime minister have claimed that Jerusalem was being left out of the loop on the details of the negotiations.

This assertion was backed up in a New York Times report last week, in which a European official said that the US’s top negotiator, Wendy Sherman, had told him not to disclose too much information to the Israelis because “the details could be twisted to undermine a deal.” Administration officials subsequently publicly acknowledged that not all information on the talks was being made available to Israel.

Ya’alon did not cite specific figures or terms. He said, however, that Iran is the central destabilizing factor in the region and that it sends “unbridled” terror across the world. Any such agreement signed between “the West and this messianic, apocalyptic regime” will therefore harm Western and Israeli interests, he said, “and allow Iran to turn into a nuclear threshold state and continue its terror actions.”

In an apparent dig at Obama’s emerging policy, which seems to view Iran as the potential responsible adult in the region, Ya’alon said that the regime in Tehran “is the problem and not the solution.”

The agreement that is currently being cobbled together – with each moving part influencing a series of other, related parts – is “a bad deal,” he said, one that will allow Iran “out of financial straits and also to continue to enrich uranium.”

Ya’alon, a former army chief of staff who, as a member of the security cabinet, has differed with Netanyahu about the timing of a possible Israeli military strike against Iran, said that “we will not compromise on the security of the citizens of Israel and will act in every way, and speak from any stage, about the coming dangers.”

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