The Mossad Didn’t Prove Iran Is Working on a Nuclear Weapon, but That’s Not the Point

In a televised speech on Monday, Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that Israeli intelligence spirited tens of thousands of documents, both physical and digital, out of Iran’s secret nuclear archive. Among these data, said the prime minister, is evidence that the Islamic Republic had been working on developing atomic weapons long after 2003, contrary to the claims it made as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. David Horovitz explains why these revelations matter:

Netanyahu did not seek to claim that Israel had attained smoking-gun evidence that Iran has breached the terms of the . . . 2015 agreement with the ayatollahs. The critics sneering at his ostensible failure to produce a post-2015 smoking gun are—deliberately, as is their wont—missing the point. . . .

It is Israel’s deeply unhappy assessment that the deal is so negligent, so misconceived, so badly constructed, that the Iranians have no need whatsoever to breach it. . . . Why, after all, would they violate the terms of an agreement that, while ostensibly designed to ensure they cannot achieve a nuclear-weapons arsenal, nonetheless entitles them to continue research and development of centrifuges to enrich uranium so that when the deal’s terms expire, they will have mastered an enrichment process ten times faster than the process they had managed before the deal came into force? (They’re already boasting, not incidentally, that they have accelerated the process since they signed the accord.)

Why would they violate the terms of an agreement that does not prevent them from continuing to develop their ballistic-missile program—the means of delivery for their anticipated nuclear devices—to bring Europe and the United States into range? Why would they violate the terms of an agreement that left significant parts of their nuclear program intact? . . . Israel’s contention is not that Iran is breaching the deal. It is, rather, that this agreement, far from preventing Iran from attaining a nuclear-weapons arsenal, paves Iran’s path to it. . . .

Netanyahu’s critics further assert that there was nothing new in the material he presented—nothing new in the showcasing of Iran’s own evidence of its deceit, and of the specifics of its nuclear-weapons program. First of all, that criticism is patently false. The International Atomic Energy Agency, in its own reporting, has never claimed to have attained remotely comparable access to Iran’s own documentation. . . . [S]econdly, if it is the [deal’s Western negotiators’] contention that they knew every detail of the program as now conclusively presented by Netanyahu, and knew therefore the precise extent of Iran’s duplicity, then how could they possibly have negotiated so lax an accord with the ayatollahs?

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran nuclear program, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

Syria’s Downing of a Russian Plane Put Israel in the Crosshairs

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, Israeli jets fired missiles at an Iranian munitions storehouse in the northwestern Syrian city of Latakia. Shortly thereafter, Syrian personnel shot down a Russian surveillance plane with surface-to-air missiles, in what seems to be a botched and highly incompetent response to the Israeli attack. Moscow first responded by blaming Jerusalem for the incident, but President Putin then offered more conciliatory statements. Yesterday, Russian diplomats again stated that Israel was at fault. Yoav Limor comments:

What was unusual [about the Israeli] strike was the location: Latakia [is] close to Russian forces, in an area where the IDF hasn’t been active for some time. The strike itself was routine; the IDF notified the Russian military about it in advance, the missiles were fired remotely, the Israeli F-16s returned to base unharmed, and as usual, Syrian antiaircraft missiles were fired indiscriminately in every direction, long after the strike itself was over. . . .

Theoretically, this is a matter between Russia and Syria. Russia supplied Syria with the SA-5 [missile] batteries that wound up shooting down its plane, and now it must demand explanations from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That won’t happen; Russia was quick to blame Israel for knocking over the first domino, and as usual, sent conflicting messages that make it hard to parse its future strategy. . . .

From now on, Russia will [almost certainly] demand a higher level of coordination with Israel and limits on the areas in which Israel can attack, and possibly a commitment to refrain from certain actions. Syria, Iran, and Hizballah will try to drag Russia into “handling” Israel and keeping it from continuing to carry out strikes in the region. Israel . . . will blame Iran, Hizballah, and Syria for the incident, and say they are responsible for the mess.

But Israel needs to take rapid action to minimize damage. It is in Israel’s strategic interest to keep up its offensive actions to the north, mainly in Syria. If that action is curtailed, Israel’s national security will be compromised. . . . No one in Israel, and certainly not in the IDF or the Israel Air Force, wants Russia—which until now hasn’t cared much about Israel’s actions—to turn hostile, and Israel needs to do everything to prevent that from happening. Even if that means limiting its actions for the time being. . . . Still, make no mistake: Russia is angry and has to explain its actions to its people. Israel will need to walk a thin line between protecting its own security interests and avoiding a very unwanted clash with Russia.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war