US and Israel Concede Iran Will Go Nuclear Tacitly conceding failure of "maximum pressure" campaign
An Israeli physicist who worked at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor, which produces the plutonium for the country’s nuclear warheads, published a Haaretz article declaring the the US and Israeli policy of “maximum pressure,” has utterly failed. Instead of preventing an Iranian bomb, Trump’s abandonment of the nuclear deal has permitted Iran to pursue one. Noah Shamir writes:
Opponents of the agreement must take into account that without it, enrichment will reach the level needed for a bomb.
He bemoans both Netanyahu and Trump’s thundering denunciation of the nuclear deal:
All of the above shows that by opposing the nuclear deal, Israel has reconciled itself to Iran’s becoming a nuclear power. The question is why. Benjamin Netanyahu declared morning, noon and night that Iran was preparing a nuclear Holocaust for us.
Israel’s reconciling itself to an Iranian bomb was thus tantamount to giving Tehran a license to kill.
US intelligence, according to Shamir, determined two months ago that Iran would have the necessary uranium for a weapon in a matter of weeks. For that reason, both countries have reconciled themselves to the prospect of Iran becoming either a nuclear, or a threshhold state (in which it produces all the components necessary to make and deliver a nuclear weapon, but does not assemble the actual weapon and warhead).
Another alarming factor about Iran’s approaching the nuclear threshhold is, as Shamir says, the increasing difficulty of impeding it with the type of sabotage and assassination Israel has employed. As he says:
…Uranium enrichment is undertaken in giant facilities, which means it is easy to get intelligence on their existence and to attack and destroy them. By contrast, the steps that follow on the way to a bomb can be done in relatively small facilities that can be dispersed over numerous sites and are easy to conceal. Facilities can even be divided up, so that even when some are found and attacked, others will continue to operate in secret.
He adds that the clamor by war hawks to attack Iran and destroy (or so they believe) its nuclear capability is not possible unless Israel did so with US involvement. That doesn’t appear in the cards under Pres. Biden. Just as Barack Obama and George Bush both opposed such an operaton when Israelis proposed it to them.
Let me offer a contrarian view, but one offered by a number of Iran experts: Iran getting the Bomb is not necessarily a bad thing, though in a perverse way. Of course, nuclear proliferation is a very dangerous phenomenon. We already have far too many nuclear states. But if Israel has 200 nuclear warheads and the means to deliver them far beyond its own borders, Iran going nuclear would create a deterrent that would give Israel pause. Not only might it constrain the potential use of nuclear weapons, it would make Israel think twice about any serious attack on Iran. It might even constrain Israel’s conventional program of sabotage and assassination.
We’ve seen that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal has forced both China and the US to take a hands-off approach to Kim’s weapons tests. They know that if he is threatened he will have no compunction about using his arsenal. The unfortunate lesson learned is that nuclear states gain a status that non-nuclear states do not have. Mutually assured destruction, in a perverse way, ensures a certain level of stability in regional security. A good example of this is US-Russia relations. While each test the other and the limits of their respective military power (Putin in particular), both know they cannot directly attack the other without ensuring national destruction.
Iran is Happy With No Deal
Shamir says that the Iranians have no urgent need to sign a deal. The absence of one offers them freedom to pursue nucearization at whatever pace it chooses. While Trump and Netanyahu declared that sanctions would bring Iran to its knees, that hasn’t happened. The pipe dream of anti-Iran hawks that the privation caused by sanctions would incite Iranians to rise up and overthrow their leaders, hasn’t happened. This punitive policy hasn’t worked either.
All of this means that the joint US-Israeli approach has not only failed, but failed catastrophically. Lack of a deal, whether it was flawed or not, has freed Iran to proceed full speed ahead on the path to a bomb. Sanctions have not dented the economy to the extent that there is massive social disruption and disintegration. Iran still stands, wounded but unbowed. All the remonstrations of the Netanyahus of the Israeli right; and the Trump Republicans of the US right, have amounted to nothing.
For some reason, either the public and media don’t know this, or they’re too distracted by the war in Ukraine to care. This could be a strong talking point in the November mid-term elections for the Democrats. However, a large part of the failure of this policy lies on Joe Biden’s doorstep. In the interval between the presidency of Hassan Rouhani and the ascension of hardliner, Ebrahim Raisi, Biden continued to make unrealisitic demands of Iran which precluded an agreement. After the hardliners took over, the conditions Iran offered were even more stringent and the chance of a deal was dead.
Despite Shamir’s clear-eyed analysis of the failure of Israel’s policy, he makes the same mistake most Israelis make in analyzing Iran’s interests in the region. Shamir contends that if Israel has lost the opportunity to stop an Iranian bomb, it must redouble conventional (rather than nuclear) efforts to stop Iran’s ambitions in the region.
Instead of this conventional thinking. which determines that Iran is a regional threat to US and Israeli interests, that must be met with countervailing force, bolder contrarian thinking is necessary. The failure of the conventional policy demands a radically different one. The US and Israel should offer Iran full normalization. Mutual recognition, lifting of all sanctions, return to free and open trade and access to financial markets, an end to Israeli attacks on its nuclear program. If Israel stopped its attacks in Syria against Hezbollah and Iranian forces, it could demand the same of each of them. An end to the arms race pitting Hezbollah’s missile arsenal againt Israel F-35s seeking to destroy it.
In return, Iran might be persuaded to abandon its support for the Assad regime, Hezbollah, and the Houthis (the Saudis would have to stop their disastrous war in Yemen). If Iran feels it is gaining something of criticial value, it may be willing to turn away from arming its proxies. It might also be willing to return to a nuclear deal if it feels it is no longer under siege and threat of attack. Such a deal could include provisions restraining Iran’s ballistic missile program, a major demand of the war hawks.
Peace and diplomacy are the only answer. War and violence only play into the hands of hardliners on both sides. And as long as they prevail politically the disastrous status quo will continue. Clearly, we are nowhere near the scenario I sketched above. All three countries have leaders who either will not, or cannot make such a comprehensive deal. But if more analysts, think tanks, academics and journalists articulated such a vision, momentum could bring each state to the understanding that what failed should be abandoned; and a new approach is the only way out of the stalemate.
9 thoughts on “US and Israel Concede Iran Will Go Nuclear – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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I am happy to read your rational proposal Richard.
The Russian war on Ukraine may have its effects more broadly as well, countries believing that having a nuclear threat keeps them safe as Russia’s blackmail works to prolong this war. And so nuclear proliferation will possibly/probably happen. Maybe Ukraine should go nuclear again.
Appeasing Israel’s outsized fear of Iran having nuclear weapons (while it has it’s own) has worked, like a Greek tragedy, to achieve the opposite result but it kept Netanyahu in power. That fear mongering perfected by Netanyahu (commiserating with Republicans in Congress and Trump beholden to the so-called pro-Israel vote) is more to blame than Biden I think, at least for setting Biden up. But Biden, suffering in the polls, also wants that vote at home of course and walks the line between wisdom and folly, at times for the latter, for political expediency. No?
another gold ring for the fingers of Mr Security Bibi the cigars moocher and Mr Trump
using their great wisdom when they decided to trash the jcpoa
hail the day Mr Security went in front of congress and brought a bomb display
and he still got the chutzpah to run again to further ruin it whilst living it off from someone else’s bank account.
it was known from day one of trump rejecting the jcpoa that this current status would be the direct consequence in 2022 rather that at the end of jcpoa.
did we need someone else’s wisdom reporting that this has happened or that Israel would be able to stop it. israel’s activities amounted no more than bees zapping a grey whale.
iran can do no more blackmailing with or without the bomb, same as israel, wasted money.
iram cant threaten anyone in either it’s neighborhood or anyone else’s neighborhoods,
same as israel, WHO ARE THEY GOING TO BOMB. Even the US with its thousands of nukes cant threaten their greatest enemy namely putin’s russia.
iran is losing its grip even in iraq AND lebanon. all the actors in the region know that ANY war would be more far reaching and could bring about WWIII as a consequence
so please all let us not lose sleep over a nuclear iran.
70 years later and only 2 were ever used THANK GOD
Congrats Richard. Finally someone said what has been obvious for a year, namely that Iran will have a bomb within a month or so of when I decides to make one.
A bright spot may occur if Trump is running in 2024, and Iran does a test well before the election, it will likely kill trump’s chances because all will see that ending the JCPOA was a colossal blunder.
When will we learn that sanctions, even very deep ones, rarely force governments to change direction.
If Israel recognizes that Iran is potentially nuclear, why do they continue to assassinate Iranian generals and scientists and engineers?
There is a fatwa of Iranian leader that forbid nuclear weapons and the Iranian government is a religious government so they will never create such a weapon.
Our pain at the pump funded and created the success of the Iran Nuclear Program. It wasn’t abstract political policies!
Iran’s economy was and still is badly hurt. Iran’s official and obviously not biased statistical office claims inflation is at 42% and my guess is even much worse
@ Steven: Congratulations for celebrating wreaking havoc on Iranian children and working people. Bringing them to their knees is an admirable mission. You do realize that no economic hardship affects the IRG or its military capability. Leadership ensures that they are not harmed by any of this. It only hurts the vulnerable. So good work. Hurting the masses and harming no one you hope to harm.
Please show me where my celebration happened and how I support all those claims you made, but I guess it is easier to ignore this line.
The leaders might be unharmed but the global consensus is it made a significant impact on their own military ability and reduced their proxy war to virtually nonexistent,
Why else would you mention Iran’s inflation rate? Because you wish the country well? And who does the economic hardship hurt? Anyone connected to whatever national policies you dislike? Of course not. Which was my point.
Watch out for anyone whose argument starts “many say,” “the view is that,” or “the globan consensus is.” What they mean is that ‘I believe this’ and I’m sure there are a ton of others, but I don’t know who they are, or I’m too lazy to cite a specific source. In fact, there is no globan consensus of the sort you mention.
Sanctions are a hope or intent to harm Iran’s military capacity or nuclear program. But of course that’s not what’s happening. Iran makes sure that these parts of their national infrastructure are well funded. That’s in fact why the IRG has a huge economic impact and maintains control of many industrial plants and capabilities, which provide it income for its military activities.
You have no idea what you’re talking about. Iran’s assistance to its allies in he region remain unchanged. Wherever Israel or the Saudis are attacking Syria, Yemen, Iraq, etc. Iran matches their aggression with its own aid to those attacked.
Don’t post again in this thread.