The largely derisive response in most international quarters to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s avalanche of evidence of Iran’s nuclear weapons program on Monday night, notably from among the nations that negotiated the 2015 nuclear capitulation to Iran, merely underlines their incompetence, their failure, their disingenuousness, and the gravity of the ongoing Iranian threat that they so reprehensibly failed to defuse.
Showcasing the Mossad’s astonishing haul of Iran’s own nuclear weapons documentation, Netanyahu did not seek to claim that Israel had attained smoking gun evidence that Iran has breached the terms of the P5+1’s 2015 agreement with the ayatollahs. The critics sneering at his ostensible failure to produce a post-2015 smoking gun are — most deliberately, as is their wont — missing the point.
Israel does not contend that Iran is breaching the specific terms of that radically inadequate accord. Quite the contrary.
It is Israel’s deeply unhappy assessment that the deal is so negligent, so misconceived, so badly constructed, that the Iranians have no need whatsoever to breach it. (I set out many of the central flaws in the accord at the time it was finalized, in an article headlined “16 reasons nuke deal is an Iranian victory and a Western catastrophe.”)
Why, after all, would they violate the terms of an agreement that, while ostensibly designed to ensure they cannot achieve a nuclear weapons arsenal, nonetheless entitles them to continue research and development of centrifuges to enrich uranium so that when the deal’s terms expire, they will have mastered an enrichment process 10 times faster than the process they had managed before the deal came into force? (They’re already boasting, not incidentally, to have accelerated the process since they signed the accord.)
Why would they violate the terms of an agreement that does not prevent them from continuing to develop their ballistic missile program — the means of delivery for their anticipated nuclear devices — to bring Europe and the United States into range?
Why would they violate the terms of an agreement that left significant parts of their nuclear program intact?
Why would they violate the terms of an agreement that enables them to evade anytime/anywhere inspections of facilities suspected of engaging in rogue nuclear-related activity?
Why would they violate the terms of an agreement that dismantled the painstakingly constructed sanctions regime that forced them to the negotiating table in the first place, and risk the re-imposition of those sanctions?
And why, finally, would they violate the terms of an agreement whose “sunset clauses” mean they need merely wait a few years before resuming their march to the bomb?
No, Israel’s contention is not that Iran is breaching the deal. It is, rather, that this agreement, far from preventing Iran from attaining a nuclear weapons arsenal, paves Iran’s path to it.
And what that haul of Iran’s own documentation conclusively demonstrated is that this is precisely what Iran intends to do. Compelled to freeze the program in 2003, Iran is merely biding its time before resuming nuclear weapons-related activities, empowered by the R&D progress it is being allowed to make under the terms of the accord.
Nothing new? That makes it worse
Netanyahu’s critics further assert that there was nothing new in the material he presented — nothing new in the showcasing of Iran’s own evidence of its deceit, and of the specifics of its nuclear weapons program.
First of all, that criticism is patently false. The International Atomic Energy Agency, in its own reporting, has never claimed to have attained remotely comparable access to Iran’s own documentation. The Mossad spirited out 100,000 files. The P5+1 negotiators should race to pore over the material.
But secondly, if it is the P5+1’s contention that they knew every detail of the program as now conclusively presented by Netanyahu, and knew therefore the precise extent of Iran’s duplicity, then how could they possibly have negotiated so lax an accord with the ayatollahs?
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, one of the cheerleaders of the 2015 deal, grandly declared on Monday night that the pact “was put in place exactly because there was no trust between the parties; otherwise we would not have required a nuclear deal to be put in place.”
Wow, let’s read that again: We knew they were lying, and that’s why we had to put this accord into place.
Put it another way: We knew they were lying, and that’s why we cut a lousy deal with them, a deal that did not dismantle the nuclear program we knew they had even though they swore blind that they didn’t.
It must have been galling for the P5+1 negotiators and their defenders to watch that irritating Netanyahu strutting around in front of those shelves of files and those racks of CDs, claiming vindication and underlining the negotiators’ scandalous failure
We knew they were lying, and that’s why we cut a lousy deal with them that allowed them to boast that they had faced down and outsmarted the West.
We knew they were lying, and that’s why, when the sanctions had finally put them on the ropes, we cut a lousy deal with them that lifted the economic pressure — and thus entrenched their repressive regime in power, the better to oppress their own people, and gave them the financial resources to spread havoc and bloodshed throughout the region.
It must have been galling for the P5+1 negotiators and their defenders to watch that irritating Netanyahu strutting around in front of those shelves of files and those racks of CDs, claiming vindication and underlining the negotiators’ scandalous failure.
But the fact is that the 2015 deal was a terrible, misconstructed accord. It let the duplicitous Iranians off the hook. It did not dismantle the weapons program they still lie about. It did not close their path to a nuclear weapons arsenal.
I wonder when the negotiators and their defenders will finally apologize for their failure. When Iran starts testing its nukes, perhaps? Or will they still be sneering then?
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