Analysis: While PM Netanyahu failed to provide a ‘smoking gun’ proving that Iran kept pursuing a nuclear bomb after signing the nuclear deal in 2015, he did prove that the agreement was based on a lie. When a country located more than 1,000 kilometers away is capable of stealing Iran’s most secret archive, Iran can’t feel safe.
While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech Monday failed to prove that Iran is violating the nuclear agreement that it signed with the world powers in 2015, it did prove that Iran had lied to begin with, both concerning the existence of its nuclear program and concerning its components and its activity to produce nuclear warheads to install them on missiles.
In other words, Iran failed to meet the conditions which served as the foundation for the negotiations that led to the agreement.
When Iran claimed it wasn’t building a nuclear weapon and missile warheads, but only enriching uranium and producing plutonium (fissile material), it concealed a fundamental fact from the international community and from the world powers, which turned the agreement into a misrepresentation: At that time, it was already in advanced stages of producing nuclear warheads.
The most important value of Netanyahu’s presentation is in the publication of the amazing intelligence achievement of obtaining the huge archive and transferring it to Israel. It’s hard to assess the magnitude of the operation carried out by the Israeli intelligence, and mainly by the Mossad, which managed to get its hands on this material.
This achievement, which has been verified by the Americans, is a deterring strategic factor in the conflict with Iran. When another country, located more than 1,000 kilometers away, is capable of stealing its most secret archive, Iran has to feel vulnerable.
This fact has a negative impact on the regime’s prestige and the intimidating image of the Revolutionary Guards, which are in charge of the nuclear program, as well as of the archive. If the Revolutionary Guards are incapable of protecting the nuclear archive, which includes explosive diplomatic and legal material, they are apparently not as intimidating as they thought. That’s something Iran’s citizens learned on Monday, and it indirectly threatens the regime’s survival.
Netanyahu delivered the speech in English as its main goal was to “help” US President Donald Trump make a decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement, and primarily to embarrass the Europeans for letting the Iranians deceive them when they signed the agreement in 2015.
Netanyahu knows the Europeans would like to stick to the agreement, but they understand that reality has changed following the revelations: They have to close the breaches concerning the supervision of the agreement’s implementation and Iran’s missile program.
The revelation that the Iranians have already designed a nuclear warhead for a missile, and that they plan to produce five warheads, requires new and more serious supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over the agreement’s implementation. While that doesn’t mean the entire agreement should be cancelled, it does require the Europeans to at least address the concerns that Iran is still secretly developing these nuclear warheads.
Iran’s missile program is not part of the nuclear agreement, but as it has become clear that Tehran is producing a nuclear weapon to install on missile, it has to be supervised. If Iran refuses, it will have to be put under sanctions.
The conclusions from the prime minister’s revelation on Monday are that the five permanent Security Council members and Germany must now demand that Iran sign another agreement limiting its missile program and allowing tighter supervision within the country. If the Iranians agree, the US won’t have to withdraw from the agreement. If the Iranians refuse, the Europeans will have to join the sanctions that the US imposes on Iran and a demand for tighter immediate supervision within military camps in Iran.
The Iranians will likely refuse, and the US will have no other choice but to walk away from the agreement. This will be followed by secret negotiations on amendments. Considering the Iranians’ difficult economic situation and the fact that the sanctions could lead to the regime’s collapse, after the loud and provocative declarations they will quietly look for a compromise, and the Europeans will serve as mediators as usual.
Netanyahu’s revelations do not raise the likelihood of war in the region, but rather reduce it. Iran has been embarrassed in the international arena and won’t want to carry out additional activities that would lead to further international isolation.
The bottom line is that Netanyahu proved the nuclear agreement between the world powers and Iran was based on false data and a false premise concerning the most important component—the weapons program. The Iranians sold the world powers a lie, and the powers fell for it.
First published: 05.02.18, 23:35