Speculation that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities has emerged in the Israeli press, following the failure of international negotiators to reach a deal on the Tehran regime’s nuclear program by the agreed date of November 24.
Israeli website NRG says that in the event that current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wins the next parliamentary elections in March 2015, he will face the “difficult dilemma” of whether to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities in June, one month before the next deadline for an agreement.
NRG emphasizes that the decision will be a fraught one, especially as military action is highly unlikely to gain the support of the Obama Administration, which regards a deal with Iran as vital to its political legacy. However, many Arab states, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are deeply unhappy with the American-led negotiations, as they too regard the weaponization of Iran’s nuclear program as an existential threat.
The NRG piece also quoted former leading Mossad official Haim Tomer as saying that the period leading up to July is the best time to increase sanctions on Iran, and not to reduce them. “The sanctions are being very effective, especially because of the drop in oil prices, and the economic collapse of Iran will force Iran to give up her dream,” Tomer said.
The talk of possible Israeli action – last seriously considered in 2011, before the current round of negotiations began – coincides with the revelation published in Foreign Policy by journalist Colum Lynch that Washington has “privately accused Iran of going on an international shopping spree to acquire components for a heavy-water reactor that American officials have long feared could be used in the production of nuclear weapons-grade plutonium.”
Lynch said that the White House has so far not acknowledged its displeasure with the Iranians publicly. But, Lynch said, the current objections “stand in stark contrast to recent remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry, who has repeatedly credited Tehran with abiding by the terms of the November 2013 pact, which bound Tehran to suspend some of its work at the Arak heavy-water reactor. ‘Iran has held up its end of the bargain,’ Kerry said last month in Vienna as he announced a seven-month extension of the timetable for big-power talks.”
Lynch observed: “The allegation is also sure to add to the mounting congressional unease over the administration’s ongoing talks with Tehran. Many lawmakers from both parties believe that the White House is making too many concessions to Tehran to cement a deal that it sees as central to the president’s legacy. With the GOP slated to take over the Senate next month, Iran hawks like Arizona Republican John McCain and Illinois Republican Mark Kirk are already promising to push through a new package of economic sanctions, a move that the White House believes would scupper the delicate talks with Tehran. Both men are likely to see the new U.N. allegations as proof that Tehran simply can’t be trusted to abide by the terms of a future deal.”
Separate research by the Institute for Science and International Security also documents Iranian violations in building up both its uranium and plutonium programs while negotiating under the rubric of the “Joint Plan of Action” (JPOA) agreed in Geneva last November.
Commenting on the latest revelations, Rep Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced: “This regime is proving to be a determined cheater, showing no willingness to accept an effective verification regime. Despite Iran’s deceit and intransigence, the Administration’s optimistic talk goes on. We are on our second negotiations extension. Iran is not addressing our fundamental verification and enrichment concerns. It is well beyond time for more sanctions pressure.”