Armed with half a dozen submarines, Israel’s strategic arm – along with the air force, and pending approval from the political echelon – could attack Iran to prevent it from assembling and deploying nuclear weapons. This is what former Mossad chief Meir Dagan meant when he spoke about a military attack as a last resort – “only when the sword is at the throat” — but still a possible option.
The deal unveiled in Switzerland on Friday between Iran and the five world powers plus Germany (P5+1), even if not ideal, certainly does not belong in the category of “sword at the throat.”
The Israeli government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defined the pending agreement as a “bad deal.”
It’s true – maybe it would have been possible to reach an immeasurably better agreement. Iran has come to these talks, which are aimed at limiting its nuclear program, out of weakness. The heavy sanctions imposed on it over the last years – particularly on its oil exports and banking system – are threatening to crush its economy, and Iran’s leaders are concerned about the future of their regime.
But even with the concessions apparently being offered by the P5+1, Iran is being forced to capitulate. The centrifuges will not be dismantled, but their numbers will be reduced greatly. And operations at both Fordow (once a secret site) and Arak will be restricted and subject to international inspections.
Each of these steps will distance Iran from being able to create nuclear weapons by at least a year. At the moment, it is only a few months away from such a capability.
It’s true that the agreement leaves some loopholes that are worrisome and that beg for solutions, such as requiring that Iran reveal its past “weaponization” activities, and how to prevent it from nuclear research and developing advanced models of centrifuges.
The question here is not only if this is a bad agreement – but rather, what is the alternative?
The alternative to foregoing a deal is even worse. With no international agreement and stringent inspections, Iran could already begin galloping toward a bomb.
Don’t forget: Israel is the strongest military and economic power in the Middle East. Its strategic posture amid the dissolution of the governments in the Arab world, has only improved in the last years. There is no existential threat to the Jewish state. Not even from Iran.
Israel can permit itself to show more self-confidence than its prime minister, who imbues his citizens with fear, permits himself. In any case, Israel always reserves the right to military action — perhaps even using the strategically invisible submarines — if ever it should feel “the sword at the throat.”