Israel Must Speak Up about the Threat Posed by a Possible U.S.-Iran “Understanding”

June 19, 2023 | Jacob Nagel
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According to a series of recent reports, the Biden administration is considering a limited agreement with Tehran in which the latter will slow down its nuclear activities in exchange for millions of dollars in sanctions relief. Seeking to avoid the congressional oversight that would be triggered by any sort of formal deal with Iran, the White House has been careful to refer to this arrangement simply as an “understanding.” Jacob Nagel examines the problems posed by this policy, and how the Jewish state should react:

The idea is to freeze Iran’s progress when it comes to highly enriched uranium in exchange for partial sanctions relief (oil sales), the release of some frozen funds, and the freeing of prisoners. . . . The agreement will legitimize all previous Iranian violations [of its nuclear commitments] and allow Iran to retain the assets obtained through the ongoing violation of all agreements and treaties it has signed, while injecting billions of dollars to revitalize the economy. It will also enable [Tehran’s] continued support of terrorism in the Middle East and around the world.

Israel must highlight up front—and loudly—the dangers of the provisions being formulated and express firm opposition even at the cost of harming the prospect of a possible deal with Saudi Arabia, which in itself is very important but much less so than concessions given to Iran on its nuclear program.

Iran is trying to draw Israel into a multi-theater conflagration while staying out of direct confrontation for the time being. Israel must continue to improve its military capabilities while at the same time send a clear message against the understandings being formulated. Every hint that there is anything to talk about will convey that Israel is weak—like the U.S.—and cannot be trusted. The message will reach our friends in the Gulf, those who have signed agreements with us, and those who may sign in the future—but only if Israel will remain strong against the Iranian threats.

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