There is an urgent need to clarify Israel’s position on the high stakes at the table in Geneva, where negotiations over the status of Iran’s nuclear program are currently being debated.
There should be no doubt that Israel fully supports a diplomatic solution provided that it really is a solution — and not just a deal.
A deal that calls for freezing economic sanctions in return for freezing the Iranian military nuclear program is indeed a deal, but solves nothing. It is, in fact, a bad deal that may be even worse than no deal. It provides Iran with the time and cover to pursue its nuclear weapons program to the point of no return — when further negotiations are futile and Iran’s nuclear weapons capability is a fait accompli.
A real solution will involve a rollback of the Iranian program, not just a freeze. Since this program has already brought Iran to the threshold of becoming a nuclear state, the world can no longer afford to rely on half measures.
Such a rollback must include three elements: dismantling of all the centrifuges, removal of all of the enriched uranium from Iran and dismantling of the heavy water (plutonium) reactor. Until complete compliance with these three essential elements has been verified by an inspection apparatus, the economic sanctions that brought Iran to the table must be maintained. If possible even increased.
If, in addition to the enormous reserves of oil and natural gas she has, Iran would like to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes that can be achieved without enrichment of uranium or producing heavy water for a plutonium reactor. After all, 17 other states in the world — including Mexico and Canada, and all with a much better reputation than Iran — are doing the same.
Led by the fanatical religious regime headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran has long proudly worn the crown as the world’s largest and most dangerous state sponsor of terror, either through direct intervention (as in the Syrian conflict) or via their deadly proxies (Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad) not only in the Middle East but around the world.
The negotiators in Geneva are not dealing with a normal state that adheres to the precepts of international law and conduct. The representatives of the P5+1 are sitting across a table from the minions of a rogue regime whose real leader, Ayatollah Khameini (not President Rouhani) rails against the Great Satan (the United States) while calling for the annihilation of the “little Satan” (Israel).
The international community has been taken for a ride all too often lately — by Iran itself and by North Korea. Therefore the right approach must be “suspect and verify” not “trust and verify.”
Israel understands the human need to look for easy solutions to complicated problems. However, we must be sure that the light we see at the end of the tunnel is not the Oblivion Express speeding in our direction.
Roey Gilad is the consul general of Israel to the Midwest.