White House Accuses Israel of Stoking Iran 'War'

Briefing Calls 'All or Nothing' Nuclear Approach Dangerous

By JTA

Published November 21, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Israel’s proposal that Iran totally dismantle its nuclear capacity in exchange for sanctions relief would likely lead to war, a top White House official said.

The official, in a conference call Wednesday with think tanks and advocacy groups sympathetic to the Obama administration’s Iran strategy, outlined the proposal that the major powers will put to Iran at a third round of negotiations in Geneva beginning Thursday.

JTA obtained a recording of the call on condition that it not name the participants or fully quote them.

A think tank participant on the call said Israel’s posture — demanding a total halt to enrichment and the dismantling of all of Iran’s centrifuges — was a path to war.

Agreeing that such reasoning was “sound,” the White House official said that given a choice between “total capitulation” and advancing toward a nuclear weapon, Iran would choose the weapon.

That posture would “close the door on diplomacy” and would “essentially lead to war,” the official said.

The official sounded notes of frustration with Israel’s pushback against the U.S. proposal for a “first step” deal that would exchange some sanctions relief for some rollback of Iran’s nuclear program, saying it would provide Israel with a six-month window to influence the shape of a final deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, backed by a number of U.S. lawmakers, wants Iran to totally dismantle its nuclear program and abide by United Nations Security Council resolutions and suspend all its uranium enrichment.

The proposed deal outlined by the official would suspend uranium enrichment for six months at 20 percent, implying that Iran would be able to continue enrichment at 3.5 percent to 5 percent; “address” Iran’s existing stockpiles of 20 percent- and 5 percent-enriched uranium; suspend the development of a heavy water reactor that could produce plutonium; and end the installation and construction of new centrifuges.

The official emphasized that the construction — not just the installation — of new centrifuges would be halted, countering arguments by opponents of an interim deal who say it would buy Iran time to advance its weapons program.

All of this would be verified by intrusive inspections, the official said.

In exchange, the Western powers would release a “fraction” of $100 billion in Iranian frozen funds and end “ancillary” sanctions — the official did not identify them — but keep in place sanctions on Iran’s energy and banking sectors.

The official said the administration was confident that a proposal by a group of Republican senators to attach an amendment adding intensified Iran sanctions to a must-pass defense-funding act would likely not reach the floor of the Democrat-led Senate.

The senators, led by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), agree with Netanyahu’s assessment that intensified sanctions at this stage would extract from Iran an agreement to suspend enrichment and dismantle centrifuges.

The White House official said that intensified sanctions would likely not only drive Iran away from the talks but would collapse the international sanctions regime in place by alienating a number of countries now abiding by it.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.