Israel’s nuclear energy authority said to endorse Iran deal

Atomic energy panel reportedly considers accord capable of preventing Islamic Republic from getting a bomb

Raoul Wootliff is a former Times of Israel political correspondent and Daily Briefing podcast producer.

IAEA inspectors at Iran's nuclear power plant in Natanz on January 20, 2014. (IRNA/AFP Kazem Ghane/File)
IAEA inspectors at Iran's nuclear power plant in Natanz on January 20, 2014. (IRNA/AFP Kazem Ghane/File)

Running counter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vehement opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission has endorsed the controversial deal which aims to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear aspirations, according to a Haaretz report published Thursday.

Unnamed sources “familiar with the commission” told the paper that the panel was convinced the accord reached in July between world powers and Iran will keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, and that the agreement contains sufficient limitations on the country’s nuclear program.

The IAEC is Israel’s highest authority on atomic energy, advising the government in all matters concerning nuclear policy and nuclear research and development. The commission represents Israel in all global nuclear organizations, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, the watchdog group overseeing the nuclear deal.

The commission’s conclusions — based solely on the technical aspects of the agreement as opposed to its strategic or geopolitical ramifications — were reportedly presented to the government at top-level meetings.

The prime minister and the vast majority of Israeli officials have been outspoken opponents of the nuclear accord, warning that it paves the way to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear arms, entrenches the regime, and will enable Tehran to pump money into terrorism and other destabilizing activities across the Middle East.

Weeks before the final deal was singed, members of the IAEC traveled to Washington along with members of the prime minister’s security council, the Foreign Ministry, various defense groups to be briefed by US officials on the details of the deal.

There is a range of nuanced opinions in the Israeli defense establishment about the merits of the deal. While many, including Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and former prime minister Ehud Barak have roundly denounced the deal, some urged the government to come to terms with the accord.

In August, dozens of former high-ranking Shin Bet, Mossad and IDF officials signed a petition calling for Netanyahu to accept the deal and shift his energies towards other areas of preserving Israel’s security.

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