Monday, November 25, 2013

A few things Obama overlooked

Israel Matzav

Two columns in Monday's JPost look at some of the things about Iran that President Obama overlooked.

This is Herb Keinon.
Or, as Obama enthused, if Iran “seizes this opportunity” to prove to the world that its nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes, then “the Iranian people will benefit from rejoining the international community, and we can begin to chip away at the mistrust between our two nations. This would provide Iran with a dignified path to forge a new beginning with the wider world based on mutual respect.”
Really? How about Iran’s part in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s massacre of tens of thousands of people? How about its continued development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads that were not even mentioned in the Geneva agreement? How about its role in exporting terrorism around the globe? How about its stoning of women accused of adultery, hanging of homosexuals and gruesome rate of executions? How about the anti- Semitic ranting of its leaders? Does all of the above really render the world a safer place, as Obama said? This agreement shows that Iran can indeed do all of the above, yet still get to be a member of the international community.
Israel’s concern about a nuclear Iran has never only – or even primarily – been that the Iranians will use a nuclear bomb on Israel, but rather that even having the weapon or the weapons capability will magnify its power in the region and embolden it and its proxies.
There is a deep concern that the Geneva agreement will indeed bolster Iran in the region.
Iran is already a nuclear threshold state, as is any state that can enrich uranium to 5%, has 18,000 centrifuges (nuclear-armed Pakistan has only 6,000) at its disposal and can “break out” with a bomb in five weeks.
But if before Saturday night Iran was a nuclear threshold state with leper status in the world, now it is a nuclear threshold state with international legitimacy.
Will the US or other Western countries push Iran on the Syrian issue, knowing that if they push too hard, Iran may walk away from the nuclear agreement? After investing so much time and energy into forging an agreement, none of those involved will want to do anything that could lead to its falling apart.
Two weeks ago, US Secretary of State John Kerry, following an inconclusive round of talks in Geneva, was asked in a BBC interview whether Hezbollah or the conflict in Syria came up in his talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“I think we spent 30 seconds on Syria,” Kerry said tellingly.
And the regional ramifications do not only touch on Syria (notice that Damascus praised the agreement to the moon), but will also have ramifications on the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.
In other words, in his obsession with making a deal with Iran, Obama overlooked just about everything else that matters to the region.

Yaakov Lappin sees even more risk than has been discussed previously. 
Iran can be expected to spend the next six months trying to divide this shaky coalition, and, aided by the lifting of some sanctions, will seek to whet the appetite of firms from around the world, to lure them back to do valuable business with it in the future.
Today it remains unclear how the White House would respond if the second stage of diplomacy with Iran fails. The US’s military deterrence is deflated, and the Obama administration’s credibility is too badly damaged in the region to cause either Riyadh or Jerusalem to trust the White House’s assurances.
A lack of firm international resolve in responding to failed talks would spell the beginning of the end of the sanctions regime, and leave Iran with its nuclear program intact.
The sanctions might crumble, but Iran would be left with all of its centrifuges in place, and an international recognition of its “right” to produce low-enriched uranium, which it obtained through Sunday’s Geneva deal.
In Jerusalem, there is one fundamental formula that trumps all others when it comes to Iran. If faced with two choices, either accepting an Iran with the bomb, or bombing Iran, Israel will always choose the latter.
A nuclear Iran, together with Iran’s trans-national terrorism and proxy networks, and the regional arms race that will surely follow, will be many times more dangerous to Israel’s well-being than an attack on Iranian nuclear sites.
Obama seems to have NO appreciation for that last point (or perhaps he does get it and just doesn't care): From Israel's perspective, a nuclear-armed Iran is far more dangerous than an Israeli attack on a conventionally armed Iran. Most Israelis would agree with the previous sentence.

What could go wrong?

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