In his recent column (“How Bibi Played Us On The Iran Deal — And We Let Him”) Peter Beinart claims Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu duped us by hyping the threat posed by the Iran nuclear deal. But who does Beinart mean by “us”? It doesn’t take a Bibi Netanyahu to recognize the dangers the accord poses to Israel and American interests, something Beinart is somehow not even willing to concede. So let “us” review.
First, for the positive. In the short term, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the deal is formally known, constrains Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon by limiting it to a few hundred kilograms of low-enriched uranium and reducing its output of weapon-grade plutonium at its heavy-water reactor. Iran’s declared nuclear facilities are also placed under a more rigorous inspection and verification regime.
However, in the short term, the JCPOA also has empowered the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism by lifting the most onerous sanctions upon Tehran and releasing tens of billions of dollars in frozen assets into the regime’s coffers.
A revitalized Iran has utilized its resurgent power to further its designs for regional dominance and its ongoing aggression in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen, as well as against Israel. Tehran is now also brazenly testing long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads and threatening U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf, having notoriously detained 10 American sailors at gunpoint last year in violation of international law.
The most glaring flaw of the JCPOA, though, is that it will provide Iran a clear pathway to nuclear weapons as restrictions on its uranium - enrichment and plutonium-processing capacities lift over the next 10 to 15 years. Iran has made clear that at that time it will expand its nuclear program to an industrial scale and introduce advanced centrifuges, allowing Tehran to reduce its ‘breakout’ time to produce sufficient weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon to only a matter of weeks, if not days. If such an effort can even be readily detected, the only way to prevent it would be a military strike.
Not seeking to empower an avowed enemy which chants “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” and put it on a patient path to nuclear weapons, a bipartisan majority in Congress and among the American public rationally opposed the enactment of the JCPOA. And now that it has come to pass despite this opposition, these same voices responsibly seek to more stringently enforce the nuclear deal and rollback Iran’s regional aggression in order to contain the threat as best as possible given the circumstances.
So, no, Netanyahu didn’t dupe anyone. Thoughtful people have long recognized the dangers inherent in the nuclear deal — none of which have been attenuated a year into implementation — without needing to parrot Netanyahu’s own talking points.
Peter, we welcome you and others to join us in recognizing the dangers of the nuclear deal and finding solutions to enduringly prevent the Iranian regime from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Bob Feferman is the Outreach Coordinator at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI). Matan Shamir is the Executive Director.