Israeli officials: Obama gave Iran right to enrich, destroying sanctions

Entire sanctions regime ‘will collapse within months,’ unnamed sources tell Israeli TV; US has shown it has ‘no red lines’ on Tehran

US President Barack Obama (right) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) prepare for a press session in the White House in Washington, DC, September 30, 2013. (AP/Charles Dharapak)
US President Barack Obama (right) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) prepare for a press session in the White House in Washington, DC, September 30, 2013. (AP/Charles Dharapak)

Unnamed Israeli officials denounced US President Barack Obama on Friday night for presiding over failed negotiations with Iran under which, they said, the sanctions pressure on Tehran is collapsing and the Islamic Republic has been granted the right to enrich uranium. The entire wall of sanctions, painstakingly constructed over years, is already crumbling and “will collapse within months,” the officials were quoted as saying.

In comments reported by Israel’s Channel 2 news and attributed to unnamed senior Israeli officials and official sources in Jerusalem, Obama was castigated for ostensibly showing he “will do anything to avoid a situation in which he will have to resort to force” against Iran.

Under Obama’s supervision, the unnamed officials said, the Geneva talks had produced a failed interim deal under which Iran has been granted the right to enrich uranium, and years of international sanctions pressure on Iran is now melting away.

Publicly, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has slammed the Geneva deal as a “historic mistake,” said Israel is not bound by it, and vowed to thwart Iran alone if necessary. In a phone conversation with Obama on Sunday, Netanyahu agreed to send a team led by his national security adviser to Washington to try to impact world powers’ upcoming efforts to reach a permanent accord to thwart Iran’s nuclear weapons drive.

Privately, the unnamed officials were quoted as indicating Friday, Jerusalem is feeling a bitter, dismayed and helpless sense of “We told you so.” Noting that officials and businessmen from around the world — notably including China, Turkey, France, Russia and India — are already converging on Iran, ready to resume large-scale oil, banking and all manner of other business dealings as sanctions are eased in the wake of Sunday’s Geneva deal, the officials were quoted saying that Israel knew the sanctions pressure would collapse, “but even we didn’t imagine it would happen this fast.”

The Channel 2 report quoted one official saying that the US was “not leading but is being led” by Iran, and that the Obama administration has indicated that it has “no red lines” in its dealings with the Iranians.

Melding the Hanukkah holiday and foreign affairs, Netanyahu on Thursday night vowed to serve as a “light unto the nations” and act against Iran’s nuclear program should diplomacy fail. Speaking at the Western Wall for a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony, Netanyahu compared Iran’s nuclear program to a darkness that would be forced out by Israel, referencing a popular children’s song for the holiday.

“We came to drive out the darkness, and the largest darkness that threatens the world today is a nuclear Iran,” he said. “We are bound to do all we can to prevent this darkness. If possible we will do this diplomatically, if not we will act as ‘a light unto the nations’.”

Earlier Thursday, Yaakov Amidror, 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. “The agreement represents a failure, not a triumph, of diplomacy,” Amidror wrote.

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