“The West appears to be nearing a nuclear deal with Iran,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said just before joining US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome for a conversation that went on for seven hours.
Netanyahu knew what he was talking about. He had received information, according to DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources, that President Barack Obama had ordered negotiations accelerated between Iran and a group of world powers, including the US and Russia, and have the penultimate drafts of the nuclear accords ready by Christmas Eve, Dec. 24 for signing in the new year.
Obama is again laying a false trail. He is planning to spring a surprise on a world weary of nuclear diplomacy by using the flip-flop tactic he pulled off last month over Syria’s chemical weapons.
First, he signaled an imminent US attack – which he never meant to go through with, then suddenly backed off, leaving the region gasping, while he quietly went off for a deal on the Syrian chemical issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The upshot of this deal was an international team of monitors detailed to Syria to demolish Assad’s chemical stockpiles, only to be stuck there without managing much more than token progress.
On Iran’s nuclear program, Obama skipped the military threat put-on and turned directly to Putin to start the ball rolling for a final deal.
Obama only pretends to be dissatisfied with Iran’s concessions
Putin’s man in Tehran, Russian atomic energy chief Sergei Kiryenko, has presented the draft accords passed by Obama and Putin to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who referred the documents to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and gained his approval too.
(See DEBKA Weekly 605 of Oct. 4 for an outline of this process).
After the drafts were endorsed by the US, Russia and Iran, President Obama went into his playacting mode. Last week, he planted the impression that he was not satisfied with Iran’s concessions on its nuclear program and sent its negotiators back to Tehran to bring fresh proposals to the next round of talks on Nov. 7.
Obama will keep up this dissatisfied pose for a while and, then, deliver another stunning about-turn by telling an astonished world that an accord for resolving the nagging Iranian nuclear issue had been struck between Iran and the Six World Powers and was in the bag.
The crux of this accord, DEBKA Weekly’s sources confirm, is US and Russian consent to Iran preserving its civilian nuclear program and continuing to produce low 5 percent enriched uranium, while halting 20-percent enrichment.
Iran will continue to build a plutonium reactor at Arak, but convert its underground enrichment plant at Fordo into a nuclear scientific institute.
The Iranian moves will unfold in stages, accompanied by the easing of international sanctions and the release of the $50 billion of Iranian assets frozen in American and European banks.
Netanyahu wants sanctions to stay until Iran’s nuclear program is dismantled
Our sources will continue to divulge the terms of those secret accords in the coming weeks. They include Iran’s acceptance of a ceiling on its enriched uranium stocks and the signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Additional Protocol, which authorizes snap inspections of its nuclear sites.
Those extras, however, don’t interest the Israeli prime minister.
When he spoke to Kerry in Rome, he warned that “ending sanctions before Iran dismantles its entire nuclear program would be tragic.”
Although he realized that nothing he said would affect the content or tempo of the accords already in fast forward mode, he nevertheless stood by Israel’s conditions for relinquishing military action against the Iranian nuclear program.
His most fundamental demand was to keep sanctions in place until uranium enrichment is halted and the centrifuges dismantled, to make sure that Iran was not cheating and able to reactivate its weapons program when the hue and cry died down.
”Iran must not have a nuclear weapons capability, which means that they shouldn’t have centrifuges for enrichment,” Netanyahu said.
“They shouldn’t have a plutonium heavy water plant which is used only for nuclear weapons,” he said. “They should get rid of the amassed fissile material. And they shouldn’t have underground nuclear facilities, underground for one reason — for military purposes.
Israeli military speeds up preparations to strike Iran
Realizing he would not change the Israeli leader’s stiff opposition to the agreement Obama is preparing to sign, along with five other world powers, Secretary Kerry could only repeat that “no deal is better than a bad deal,” adding, “If this can be solved satisfactorily, diplomatically, it is clearly better for everyone.”
The Saudis do not hide their fury over what they perceive as the Obama administration’s highhanded compromises with their dangerous Shiite neighbor.
"The shift away from the US is a major one," a source close to Saudi policy-making said in Riyadh on Oct. 23. "Saudi doesn't want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent."
Netanyahu did not say out loud what he really thinks: that the United States is letting Iran get away with the capacity for developing a nuclear weapon
Before he left for Rome, DEBKA Weekly’s military sources report that he ordered the Israeli military to put in high gear preparations for striking Iran’s nuclear program, as the only effective way to forestall the runaway gallop by Obama, Putin and Khamenei toward what he fears is a “bad deal.”