Israel’s most painful lesson from the two-day Geneva conference on Iran’s nuclear program is that the man who guaranteed to defend Israel’s security, President Barack Obama, is now marching hand in hand with Tehran towards a nuclear-armed Iran.
This is the reality behind the fuss and excitement surrounding the signing ceremony in Geneva Friday, Nov. 8, and the slick words gushing forth to put a convincing face on the interim deal put together between Iran and the Six Powers Thursday and Friday.
President Obama broke the news to NBC Thursday night: “There is a possibility of a phased agreement, the first part of which would stop Iran from further expanding its nuclear program. We are offering modest relief from the sanctions, but keeping the core sanctions in place, so that if it turned out during the course of the six months when we're trying to resolve some bigger issues that they're backing out of the deal or… not giving us assurances that they're not developing a nuclear weapon, we can crank that dial back up," the US president said.
Friday morning, when US Secretary of State John Kerry was heading for Geneva to join Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for the final signing stage, it was still unclear what Iran is willing to concede.
This is because no one was ready to admit exactly what the agreed “freeze” applied to and how far it is from “dismantlement “
Iran had in fact already achieved all the makings of a nuclear bomb and was holding them in place ready for assembly. Uranium enrichment will furthermore continue although at a low grade.
At any moment, Tehran may decide to assemble those components and produce a bomb and has the capacity to do so before the US or Israel catch on to what is happening.
The accord to be signed Friday elevates Iran automatically to the rank of a nuclear power, which already holds Syria, Iraq and Lebanon under its sway. The radical alliance binding Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Syria’s Bashar Assad and Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah has triumphed. Israel fell down badly by trusting the Obama administration to break this axis up before it spreads more violence and havoc across the region.
Before setting off for Geneva, Secretary Kerry warned Israel that the breakdown of talks with the Palestinians would result in a third “intifada.”
But he made no reference to the Iranian nuclear intifada now looming over Israel and the entire Middle East.
Before coming to Jerusalem, the US Secretary visited Riyadh. But there was nothing much for him to discuss with King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal, because both had accepted that there is no chance of turning the Obama administration from its chosen track which results in Iran enjoying the freedom to pursue a nuclear weapon amid progressively enhanced sanctions relief.
Some time ago, the Saudis took what they saw as appropriate preemptive action.
On Jan. 1, 2013, Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and defense minister, traveled to Islamabad and commissioned Pakistan to build nuclear weapons for a multibillion fee. Those weapons were assembled in Pakistan and held ready for transfer to Saudi Arabia at a moment’s notice.
Last week, former Israeli Military Intelligence (AMAN) chief Amos Yadlin told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, “the Saudis will not wait one month. They have already paid for the bomb and will go to Pakistan and bring back what they need.”
So the countdown to a nuclear Saudi Arabia begins with the signing of the "interim" Iranian nuclear deal in Geneva. Its first result will be the deployment of a Sunni Muslim Arab nuke versus a Shiite Iranian bomb. Israel’s reputed nuclear program remains in its decades-old holding position.
The burgeoning nuclear standoff will inject a further unstable element in the volatile Middle East.
Washington has not chosen that road out of stupidity or blindness as some dismayed Israeli officials are saying. The plan appears to be not only to present Israel with a nuclear challenge, but to put a damper on Russia’s strategic and military momentum in the region.
Even if this calculus proves correct it will take years for it to unfold.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu admitted he was stunned by the terms of the accord negotiated with Iran, calling it a “monumental, historic mistake” and “Iran’s deal of the century.”
Tehran has conceded nothing and receives limited sanctions relief, he said.
The interim agreement, said Netanyahu, buries the possibility of a peaceful final accord for dismantling Iran's nuclear program once and for all. “Israel is not obliged by this agreement and will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and defend the security of its people,” he said.
His words carried two messages:
1. Israel has abandoned its trust in Barack Obama ever complying with his pledge to its security and will henceforth act on its own.
2. Israel’s only remaining course now is to exercise its military option against Iran’s nuclear capability – whether openly or covertly.
For five years, Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly warned the world that Israel was ready for military action to preempt a nuclear-armed Iran. Each successive repetition was received on a diminishing scale of credibility. His response to the Geneva accord is therefore anyone’s guess.