Israel is stepping up its efforts to sabotage the agreements reached in Geneva on the issue of Iran's nuclear program. On December 1 the head of the Israeli military intelligence agency AMAN, Amos Yadlin, and former CIA director Michael Hayden simultaneously and in unison, although in different parts of the world, stated that Iran has already crossed the nuclear threshold and is ready to “build several nuclear bombs in a matter of weeks.” In their opinion, requirements for the further denuclearization of Iran should be made significantly stricter.
American congressmen and senators close to AIPAC, which lobbies for the interests of Israel in the U.S., have prepared a package of sanctions against Iran which they propose to put into effect immediately if the agreements between the IRI and the P5+1 are not being fulfilled. Furthermore, several pro-Israel congressmen are prepared to introduce bills to both houses of the U.S. Congress in the near future urging the tightening of existing sanctions against Iran.
A real uprising against the closing of the “Iranian dossier” is brewing in Congress. Both Republicans and Democrats are criticizing Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. For the first time, the administration has come up against the joint efforts of the two most powerful foreign policy lobbies in the U.S. - the pro-Israel lobby and the pro-Arab lobby. The latter is no less active in the U.S. than the former, and is headed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE. The Gulf lobby differs from the better-known Israel lobby in that it spends dozens of times more money on its PR campaigns than Israel…
Israeli military experts recommend that the country's leadership substantially increase intelligence activities directed toward Iran, which are already significant, in order to detect the tiniest deviations on Iran's part from the agreement or attempts to hide any elements of its nuclear program from observers. They are hoping that “a blatant example of Iranian bad faith could yet shift US policy regarding a military strike.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered intelligence agencies to find evidence that Iran is breaking the Geneva nuclear agreement, writes the British newspaper The Sunday Times, citing sources in Israeli intelligence. If such information appears, it will be difficult for U.S. president Barack Obama to “sell” the Geneva agreement in Congress, notes the newspaper. According to the publication, both Israel's foreign and military intelligence agencies, Mossad and AMAN, are involved in the operation. They are focusing their efforts on searching for ballistic missiles, bomb-related drawings and secret plants for enrichment of nuclear materials.
Efraim Inbar, Director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, argues that a unilateral strike by the Israeli Air Force against Iranian nuclear sites is “a risky and militarily-complicated endeavor,” but that Israel is quite capable of such an endeavor and that it is necessary, as it “could lead to a great operational and political success.” He proceeds from the premise that Jordan and Saudi Arabia not only will not object to Israeli planes flying over their territory to make a strike against Iran, they will even provide assistance to the Israeli air force. Iran's retaliatory measures, in his opinion, will not be effective. He also believes there is no reason to fear a serious international protest, as indicated in particular by the previous reaction to Israeli strikes against nuclear sites in Iraq and Syria.
The American press is already predicting that the Israeli government will make every effort to depict Iran as a willful violator and denounce the Geneva agreement. A military strike against Iranian territory has not been ruled out either. Netanyahu continues to insist on Israel's “right and duty” to “defend itself against any threat”. And former Israeli national security advisor Major General Y. Amidror stated in an interview with the Financial Times that Israel's air force has been practicing making long-range air strikes for a long time, and as soon as they get the command from Netanyahu, they will make one. According to Amidror, the prime minister is prepared to give the command and is only waiting for a suitable moment.
At the same time, Israeli propaganda is frightening the world with information that if international pressure is weakened, Saudi Arabia, Tel Aviv's situational ally in the fight against Tehran, plans to acquire its own atomic weapon by purchasing it from Pakistan. According to supposedly reliable information from the Israelis, Riyadh concluded a secret agreement with Islamabad in 2004 according to which the latter promised to provide the Saudis with nuclear warheads on request in exchange for financing of the Pakistani nuclear program. Israel understands that such a prospect is more threatening to the Americans than an atomic bomb in the hands of the Iranian ayatollahs. In Saudi Arabia, which has a complex love-hate relationship with Washington, nuclear devices are more likely to end up in the hands of extremists.
Yet another area of activities against Iran is the joint development of a new computer virus by Mossad and Saudi intelligence which is designed to destroy Iran's nuclear program, a sort of a modernized “super-Stuxnet”, like that which the Israelis previously released in Iran's computer networks. To discuss development, the heads of the two countries' intelligence agencies, Prince Bandar bin Sultan and Tamir Pardo, met on November 24 of this year in Vienna. Riyadh has taken on financing of the project. It goes without saying that such actions are capable of causing a humanitarian disaster and affect other parts of the world, as already happened with “regular Stuxnet”.
The New York Times believes that Tel Aviv is sidelining itself in the Geneva process and placing “its relations with Washington under severe strain.” Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a member of the Knesset for the Labor Party and former Israeli defense minister, stated, “I support Netanyahu in that he categorically disagrees with any 'compromise' agreements on the Iranian issue, but we must not forget that the U.S. is our main ally. A deterioration of relations with the U.S. is of absolutely no use to us.”
Israeli analysts note Secretary of State Kerry's warning that Israel could end up in international isolation with its position on the Iranian issue. France, whose president, Hollande, has recently become close to Netanyahu, nonetheless signed the P5+1 agreement with Iran; Saudi Arabia abstained from openly condemning it; and other rivals of Iran in the region, Qatar and Bahrain, even welcomed the signing of the agreement. And there is no doubt that, despite promises to keep Israel informed of the progress of further negotiations with Iran and consider its interests when working out a final agreement, Washington will act at its own discretion. Secret bilateral negotiations between American and Iranian officials began as early as March 2013 in Oman. The meetings were held with the approval of the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iranian politicians today note that they “took a risk, but won.” Apparently, at some point the paths of the U.S. and Israel on the question of relations with Iran diverged, and the White House does not want Tel Aviv to hinder its plans. Israel's threats to attack Iran alone are becoming increasingly less believable, as they are heard too often. When Israel plans to attack, it does so without warning. At the same time, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert does not believe that his country will make a strike against Iran on its own. In his opinion, Netanyahu has already decided to accept a nuclear Iran and is fencing with President Obama more for tactical reasons.
That said, influential representatives of the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S., in particular Adam Garfinkle, editor of The American Interest, note with alarm a general tendency of Washington’s decreasing interest in alliance with Israel. Garfinkle writes that “American Jewry is in for a real shock: The 'special relationship' between the United States and Israel is fast eroding.” The cold war is over. Is Israel still a strategic asset to the United States? To answer this question, “just look around at the spate of post-1991 'greater' Middle Eastern 'episodes'—Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq again, Libya, Syria, Egypt and, prospectively, Iran. In which of these cases could Israel be aptly characterized on balance as a useful ally of the United States?...in crises it is reduced to bystander status for the most part. In most of the episodes listed above Israel has been either irrelevant or somewhere between a complication and an inadvertent nuisance...opportunities for actionable strategic alignment where it counts most—at specific sparking points of geopolitical engagement – are so meager.”
In Garfinkle's opinion, rising anti-Israel sentiment can be seen even in the U.S. Democratic Party, which since the days of Franklin Roosevelt has been the political home of the vast majority of American Jews. The loss of the previous strategic closeness between the U.S. and Israel is leading to the widening of American-Jewish divisions and divisions between American Jews and Israel. “We may be witnessing,” the expert writes, “the intermediate stages of a death spiral, where the tighter that community wants to hold on to its image of the State of Israel, and to the state’s historical prolegomenon in the Holocaust, the more damage it does to itself. That’s the way, it would seem, the triangle [the U.S. – American Jewry – Israel. – D.M.] crumbles”.
Reprinted with permission from the Strategic Culture Institute.