Thursday, Sept.26, will go down in Israel’s history as the day it lost its freedom to use force either against the Iranian nuclear threat hanging over its head or Syria’s chemical capacity – at least, so long as Barack Obama is president of the United States. During that time, the Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah axis, backed by active weapons of mass destruction, is safe to grow and do its worst.
Ovations for the disarming strains of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani’s serenade to the West and plaudits for the pragmatism of its Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif flowed out of every window of UN Center in New York this week.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who took part in the highest-level face to face encounter with an Iranian counterpart in more than 30 years, did say that sanctions would not be removed until Tehran produced a transparent and systematic plan for dismantling its nuclear program.
But then, in an interview to CBS TV, he backpedaled. Permission for international inspectors to visit the Fordo underground enrichment facility would suffice for the easing of sanctions starting in three months’ time.
By these words, the US pushed back Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s first demand to shutter Fordo and its equipment for enriching uranium to near-weapons grade, which he reiterated at this week’s Israeli cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
To Tehran, Kerry therefore held out the promise of a short deadline for starting to wind sanctions down – this coming December.
Tehran’s primary objective is therefore within reach, the easing for sanctions without having to rescind any part of its nuclear aspirations – called “nuclear rights” in Iranian parlance.
The foreign ministers of the five permanent Security Council members and Germany, meeting Thursday with Zarif, arranged to resume formal nuclear negotiations next month in Geneva.
In another chamber of the UN building, the Americans were busy climbing all the way down from the military threat Barack Obama briefly brandished against Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons eons ago – on August 31 – before he killed it by passing the decision to the US Congress.
Any suggestion of force against Assad was finally buried at the UN Security Council Thursday, when the United States accepted a formal motion requiring Syria to comply with the international ban on chemical weapons, while yielding to Moscow’s insistence on dropping the penalty for non-compliance incorporated in the original US-British-French draft.
The message relayed to Tehran from both wings of UN headquarters was that it was fully shielded henceforth by a Russian veto and US complaisance against the oft-vaunted “credible military option” waved by Washington. Iran and its close ally, the Syrian ruler Assad, were both now safe from military retribution – from the United States and Israel alike – and could develop or even use their weapons of mass destruction with impunity.
Israel’s Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, who was on the spot, could do little but repeat his government’s demands of Tehran to anyone who would listen, shouted down by the flood of conciliation pouring out for the new Iranian president. There was no escaping the conclusion that the Netanyahu government’s policy – if that is what it could be called – for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran is in tatters.
Iran, instead of facing world pressure to disarm its nuclear program, managed to turn the spotlight on Israel, requiring the world to denuclearize the entire Middle East and force Israel to join the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.
Given the atmosphere prevailing in the world body these days, it is not surprising that the speech delivered to the assembly by the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was rated moderate – even when he called the establishment of the State of Israel a “historic, unprecedented injustice which has befallen the Palestinian people in al-Nakba of 1948” and demand redress.
This perversion of the UN's historic action to create a Jewish state could only go down as moderate in a climate given over wholly under John Kerry’s lead to appeasing the world’s most belligerent nations and forces, so long as they made the right diplomatic noises.