In New Message, Israel Urges Trump to ‘Fix or Nix’ Iran Nuclear Deal

YERUSHALAYIM -
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors (2nd-3rd L) and Iranian technicians disconnect the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium production at nuclear power plant of Natanz, in this 2014 file photo, as Iran halted production of 20-percent enriched uranium, marking the coming into force of an interim deal with world powers on its disputed nuclear program. (KAZEM GHANE/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel stands with U.S. President Donald Trump on his criticism of the Iran nuclear deal, and would support his decision to decertify it, Yerushalayim has told Trump administration officials in recent days. A report in Yisrael Hayom said that if Trump decides to keep the deal, Israel would strongly recommend three changes: Canceling the section that allows Iran to enrich uranium when the deal expires, forbidding Tehran from developing ballistic missiles, and imposing sanctions on Iran to encourage the country to dismantle its nuclear facilities altogether.

Such changes, the Prime Minister’s Office has told Trump administration officials, will provide the necessary teeth to ensure that Iran keeps to the rules and spirit of the agreement, and also strengthen America’s position regarding North Korea’s nuclear threats. In either event, there needs to be more international supervision of what goes on in Iran to ensure that the country is not secretly developing nuclear weapons, the Israeli message added, according to the report.

Israel has been trying to convince Trump to should reconsider U.S. support for lowering or eliminating sanctions on Iran, which is part of the with the nuclear development agreement Iran signed with the U.S. and other countries in 2015, in which Iran agreed to suspend its nuclear enrichment program. The president is supposed to sign off on approval for the continued suppression of those sanctions every three months; if he does not, the sanctions go back into effect. The next signoff is in mid-October.

In a weekend op-ed in the New York Times, Deputy Minister and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren wrote that “the Iran nuclear deal isn’t worth saving. Had American sanctions on Iran remained in place in 2015, companies would have had to choose between doing business with the United States, the world’s top-ranked economy by gross domestic product, and Iran, ranked 27th. That same stark choice will confront businesses if sanctions are reinstated.” In addition, claims by opponents of canceling the deal who claim that Iran will “rush” to develop nuclear weapons are “unfounded. Iran could have made that rush well before 2015 but it did not. The reason was the 2012 speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United Nations General Assembly and the implicit military threat that backed it up.

“Israel’s position on the Iran deal was and remains clear. “Fix it or nix it,” Prime Minister Netanyahu recently told the United Nations,” wrote Oren. “If canceled, the deal must be replaced by crippling sanctions that force Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons capacity. Fixing the deal would include conducting stricter inspections of suspect Iran nuclear sites, imposing harsher penalties for Iranian violations and, above all, eliminating the ‘sunset clause,’”in which Iran will be given free reign to develop its nuclear program after the deal expires in another eight years.”

In recent days, Trump has derided the Iran deal, calling it the “worst deal ever.” Iran, Trump said at press conference Thursday, “hasn’t lived up the spirit of the nuclear agreement.” The U.S. “must put an end to Iran’s aggression and nuclear ambitions.” America would make its position on the Iran deal clear “very shortly,” he added.