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An Agreement with Iran – Now What?

First published by Ynet in Hebrew

In light of the agreement reached between the world powers and Iran on the subject of nuclear development on Iranian soil, and prior to the signing of the final agreement, it is important to clarify several key insights with respect to a change in the nature of the Iranian threat to Israel and the world, and to prepare accordingly. The first insight is that considering all of the agreement’s shortcomings – some of which are obvious and some of which will be revealed in the future – it appears on the surface that the agreements achieved are better than the two alternatives for the world and certainly for Israel; namely, the continuation of sanctions against Iran and the bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The sanctions regimen indeed proved itself as effective to a certain extent and succeeded in delaying Iran’s race to a nuclear bomb but it did not prevent Iran from achieving nuclear development, and it even enabled Iran and its fundamentalist regime to survive and further what it considers to be a key national interest by taking advantage of loopholes in the sanctions regimen, aided by world powers, countries, international financial companies and oligarchies that preferred to advance their own economic interests and adopted a hypocritical policy of cooperation with Iran.

Bombing the Iranian nuclear facilities –even if it was possible and even if it was done by an international alliance and not only by Israel – would have had disastrous consequences for Israel and would have only managed to push off by a few years, at the most, Iran’s goal of achieving nuclear military capability; fewer years than was achieved by the developing agreement. A military strike on Iran would have given it the excuse and legitimacy to openly charge towards obtaining a nuclear bomb immediately after it was attacked. From what we know at this point regarding the agreements reached between the world powers and Iran, as long as Iran honors the terms of the agreement its nuclear program will be delayed by at least ten years and should Iran decide to ignore its obligations and deceive the world it would take about one year for it to obtain the bomb. As stated, this option seems better that the above-mentioned alternatives.

Despite the above, many people around the world, and especially in Israel, who are familiar with the nature of the Iranian fundamentalist regime feel a great deal of discomfort and even fear the deal and its implications. Iran’s Khomeini regime, which has been in power since the end of the 1970’s, has not hidden its proliferation ambitions, its willingness to sacrifice resources and human life to expand the Shi’ite hegemony and to export the Khomeini revolution, nor its willingness to interfere in the internal affairs of many countries and to help instigate revolutions, civil wars and terrorism around the world via proxy organizations and Iranian intelligence and security organizations, such as the Revolutionary Guards and the Quds Force. Add to this the Iranian regime’s cleverness and cunning, and the result is that even if there was a better agreement than the one on the table, it would have to be recognized as an Iranian deception and nothing more. Therefore, we should not rest on our laurels and assume that the Iranians would honor the terms of the agreement.

In discussions that I previously had with senior foreign officials with experience in the Iranian issue, I was asked for my opinion regarding the chances of reaching an agreement with the Iranians. My response was that I was convinced that a deal would be reached. I explained that the Iranians need the removal of economic sanctions as they need air to breathe. The sanctions do not completely prevent advances in acquiring the bomb but they do cause severe damage to Iran’s economy. Since the Iranian negotiators are among the best in the world, negotiations would be difficult, tough and tricky, during which the Iranian side would create real and artificial crises, talks would blow up, they would play for time and create every possible manipulation in order to improve the terms of the agreement for them, but in the end they would sign almost any text presented to them. In the same breath, I said to that just as I was convinced that the Iranians would sign an agreement, I was also convinced that they would break it and try to deceive the world while conducting prohibited activities under the international radar, whether within Iran or elsewhere. The significance of this insight is that now, upon achievement of an agreement with Iran and ahead of its signing, the entire world – and the Western world in particular – must prepare for the day when it will be revealed that Iran did indeed deceive the world and violate the terms of the agreement, and perhaps even, heaven forbid, achieve nuclear military capability. For this reason, it is important to establish a new international framework and military doctrines as quickly as possible in order to take preventative steps. In other words, a military alliance – a kind of second NATO alliance – should be established today that will include all of the countries that fear expansion of a Shi’ite hegemony and a nuclear Iran. This alliance will naturally include Western countries as well as Arab countries and Israel. The alliance will be American-led and will produce a military power to make clear to Iran the high price that it will be forced to pay for violating the agreement. The second NATO alliance will also serve as a nuclear umbrella for Iran’s rival countries and prevent nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. At the same time, a new nuclear deterrence doctrine must be developed. This doctrine must be more complex and no less effective that the nuclear deterrence doctrine during the Cold War era – the MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) doctrine – that characterized the rivalry between Russia and the United States during the 1960’s and 1970’s. This doctrine was based on the understanding that both sides had the ability to obliterate one another, not only with a preliminary nuclear strike but even with a secondary-reactive nuclear strike. This doctrine, which perhaps was good for a bipolar world, must be changed and adapted to the unilateral deterrence of an Islamist fundamentalist state such as Iran. The MAD doctrine must be changed to an IAD (Iranian Assured Destruction) doctrine so that the ayatollahs in Iran will know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they face a nuclear military alliance that can and will not hesitate to destroy Iran should it achieve nuclear military capability and even consider using it in some way. The current Iranian regime will only be deterred if it faces a credible threat that endangers its existence. The new international alliance and military doctrine must be accompanied by a substantial improvement in intelligence-gathering capabilities about developments in Iran, both above and underground, openly and in secret. However, above all else, this new international system must be headed by respected, authoritative and reliable decision makers who will make it clear to the world, in word and in action, that it will not hesitate to operate the tremendous military force at its disposal should it be necessary in order to prevent Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold, and that it is already prepared to do so upon the signing of an agreement with Iran. 

The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT).