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

 

When It Comes to Syria, Vladimir Putin’s Word Can’t Be Trusted

July 13 2018

In the upcoming summit between the Russian and American presidents in Helsinki, the future of Syria is likely to rank high on the agenda. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has already made clear that Moscow won’t demand a complete Iranian withdrawal from the country. Donald Trump, by contrast, has expressed his desire for a complete U.S. withdrawal. Examining Moscow’s track record when it comes to maintaining its past commitments regarding Syria, Eli Lake urges caution:

Secretary of State John Kerry spent his last year in office following Lavrov all over the world in an attempt to create a U.S.-Russian framework for resolving the Syrian civil war. He failed. . . . President Trump [now] wants to get to know Putin better—and gauge his willingness to help isolate Iran. This is a pointless and dangerous gambit. First, by announcing his intention to pull U.S. forces out of the country “very soon,” Trump has already given away much of his leverage within Syria.

Ideally, Trump would want to establish a phased plan with Putin, where the U.S. would make some withdrawals following Iranian withdrawals from Syria. But Trump has already made it clear that prior [stated] U.S. objectives for Syria, such as the removal of the dictator Bashar al-Assad, are no longer U.S. objectives. The U.S. has also declined to make commitments to give money for Syrian reconstruction.

Without any leverage, Trump will have to rely even more on Putin’s word, which is worthless. Putin to this day denies any Russian government role in interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. Just last month, Putin went on Austrian television and lied about his government’s role in shooting down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine. Why would anyone trust Putin to keep his word to help remove Iran and its proxies from Syria?

And this gets to the most dangerous possible outcome of the upcoming summit. The one thing that Kerry never did was to attempt to trade concessions on Syria for concessions on Crimea, the Ukrainian territory that Russia invaded and annexed in 2014. There was a good reason for this: even if one argues that the future of Ukraine is not a high priority for the U.S., it’s a disastrous precedent to allow one nation to change the boundaries of another through force, and particularly of one that signed an agreement with the U.S., UK, and Russia to preserve its territorial integrity in exchange for relinquishing its cold-war-era nuclear weapons.

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More about: Crimea, Donald Trump, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin