With Iran secure as a threshold state, has Israel failed?

An Iranian student holds a placard reading ‚Nuclear energy is our absolute right‘ during a demonstration outside the Tehran Research Reactor in the capital Tehran on November 23, 2014, to show support to Iran’s nuclear program (photo credit: AFP/ATTA KENARE)
There’s no deal, but the full dismantling of Tehran’s nuclear program, so ardently sought by Netanyahu, is clearly off the table. Could things have gone differently?

By Raphael Ahren|Times of Israel

Hours before the deadline elapsed on Monday, Iran and six world powers agreed to extend their negotiations on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program until the end of June, 2015. Israel reacted with extreme relief. “The deal that Iran was pushing for was terrible,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

No deal is better than a bad deal, officials in Jerusalem repeat tirelessly. If the international community keeps up the pressure on Iran, they assert, and ideally even increases the sanctions on the regime, there is a decent chance that Tehran will eventually cave and agree to fully dismantle its rogue nuclear program.

Except the P5+1 aren’t even pushing for Iran to dismantle the program. And a terrible deal is not off the table. The negotiations the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany have been conducting with Iran will continue and probably lead to an agreement. If not by July, then after that. This time the gaps couldn’t be bridged, but the idea that a future deal will satisfy Netanyahu’s declared requirements — the dismantling of Iran’s entire set of military nuclear capabilities — is beyond improbable.

Netanyahu demands that Iran be stripped of any uranium enrichment capability. But that train has left the station; the P5+1 have basically conceded that the Islamic Republic has the right to enrich uranium. Any conceivable future deal will disregard Netanyahu’s maximalist position and leave Tehran with some enrichment capability.

In other words: Iran is currently a nuclear threshold state, three to six months away from having enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb, according to former IDF Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin. After a deal is cut, Iran will still be a threshold state, perhaps one or two years away from the bomb, but with an international stamp of approval — and without the sanctions regime that has been crippling its economy.

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