AMU Homeland Security Original

Iran and the Realities Behind the New Nuclear Agreement

By Ilan Fuchs, Ph.D.
Faculty Member, Legal Studies

Based on the news from international news outlets, it seems that a new nuclear agreement with Iran is imminent. Iranian representatives have sent their comments to the European Union-sponsored draft of the agreement, and the White House has been working through this draft.

If the news leaks are correct, Iran will sign the nuclear agreement in the very near future. The sanctions in Iran will then be gradually lifted, allowing billions of dollars to be infused into the Iranian economy and paving the way for multinational companies to make deals in Iran.

A Short History of Iran’s Attempt to Build Nuclear Weapons

The issue of attempts by Tehran to build nuclear weapons is not new. It has been going on since the 1980s and has been a concern in international politics for a long time.

During the tenure of President Barack Obama, there was a multinational agreement with Iran, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  JCPOA was meant to curtail Iran from achieving nuclear weapons.

However, there was evidence during the Trump administration that Iran had continued its efforts to create a nuclear bomb. As a result, the U.S. left JCPOA and Trump renewed the sanctions against Iran, crippling its economy.

After that decision, Iran has persisted in its effort to enrich uranium to a weapon-grade level. Even the harsh sanctions imposed by the Trump administration have not been able to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

The last few years have been complicated, to say the least. After President Biden was elected, there were nuclear talks in Vienna and Doha that were far from easy.

Not too long ago, there were signs that there that a nuclear deal with Iran would not be a possibility, but now the situation seems to have changed. But will Iran stop its covert operations to get a nuclear bomb?

The New Nuclear Agreement Causes Concern for Israeli Leaders

Reports on the new agreement are spotty; the details are not very clear and there is also no information about what mechanisms will be used to ensure Iranian compliance. A big source of the leaks is Israeli officials, some of whom are worried that the new nuclear agreement with Iran lacks the ability to ensure Iran’s compliance.

David Barnea, the head of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, called the new nuclear agreement a “strategic disaster for Israel,” according to the Times of Israel. He added that the agreement “gives Iran license to amass the required nuclear material for a bomb” and noted that the lifting of the sanctions will result in Iran giving billions of dollars to regional proxy terrorist organizations.

Barnea also said: “The Mossad is preparing and knows how to remove that threat. If we don’t take action, Israel will be in danger.”

Israel’s Defense Minister Holding Meetings with US Leaders to Strengthen Cooperation

Israel’s defense minister, Benjamin Gantz, is now visiting the U.S., according to The Jerusalem Post, and is focusing his visit on the new nuclear agreement with Iran. According to The Jerusalem Post, Gantz said, “Iran’s nuclear rush must be significantly scaled back…The financing of its affiliates in the region should be disconnected from the Iranian Rial pipeline. We will discuss the issue with the Americans, and at the same time, Israel will continue to build its strength and capabilities – so that in any situation, it will know how to defend itself.”

As a part of his visit, Gantz met with the commanders of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which has Iran under its jurisdiction. Gantz met with General Michael Kurilla at CENTCOM’s headquarters in Tampa, Florida, last week.

Gantz noted, “Israel’s cooperation with CENTCOM and the countries in the area is a game changer in the ability to maintain security, stability and peace in the Middle East especially in the face of Iran and its affiliates…We will continue to deepen the cooperation, expand the necessary activity to harm Iran’s affiliates and make sure Iran never has nuclear weapons.” 

There seems to be significant moves to strengthen cooperation between the Israeli army and CENTCOM. For example, Saudi online newspaper Elaph, a favorite venue for Israeli officials who wish to leak information about the Middle East, reported that Israeli warplanes were recently active in Iranian airspace. Elaph also noted that Israel and the U.S. carried out exercises in the Red Sea.

This cooperation between the U.S. and Israel is necessary, since there are forces in Iran that will continue to attack U.S. targets through proxy forces in Iraq and Lebanon. The Iranian assassination policy is an ongoing problem, and the shadow war with Western and other Middle Eastern nations will not stop because of this new nuclear agreement. For example, there are confirmed reports of attacks by U.S. planes on Iranian-backed targets in Syria.

Some Israeli Intelligence Agency Leaders Believe That the New Nuclear Agreement with Iran Is Better Than No Agreement

Some intelligence agency leaders in Israel believe this new nuclear agreement with Iran is better than no agreement at all. Ynet News, the most popular news outlet in Israel, reported: “Head of the Military Intelligence Directorate Major General Aharon Haliva believes the current agreement is better than a situation in which there is no agreement at all. The chief of IDF’s Research Department Brigadier General Amit also supports this position. IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Aviv Kochavi, however, doesn’t agree with them, and so doesn’t Director of Mossad David Barnea – who opposes it the most.”

What Will Happen If Iran Succeeds in Building a Nuclear Bomb?

An Iranian nuclear bomb will put the Middle East into a state of havoc. Oil prices will go up, which will affect economies around the world.

Nobody in the West should trust Iran. Its regime has a specific agenda, and its leaders have no qualms about publicly signing a nuclear agreement and continuing to work towards enriching uranium covertly.

Even if this new nuclear agreement is revoked, that will only put Iran a few months away from enriching enough uranium for a bomb. Western intelligence agencies must pay close attention to Iran and understand that as long as the clerics control Tehran, things can go sideways very fast.

Ilan Fuchs

Dr. Ilan Fuchs is a scholar of international law and legal history. He holds a B.A. in Humanities and Social Science from The Open University of Israel and an M.A. in Jewish history from Bar-Ilan University. Ilan’s other degrees include an LL.B., an LL.M. and a Ph.D. in Law from Bar-Ilan University. He is the author of “Jewish Women’s Torah Study: Orthodox Education and Modernity,” and 18 articles in leading scholarly journals. At the University, Ilan teaches courses on international law while maintaining a law practice in several jurisdictions.

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