US Must Address Israeli Concerns Over Iran Nuclear Deal, Ex-Advisers Tell Obama
Just a week before the self-imposed deadline for a nuclear deal, some of the most influential former Iran advisers to President Barack Obama warned in a letter that the U.S. must address Israel’s concerns that a nuclear deal will further empower its regional archenemy Iran.
According to an open letter written by five former members of Obama’s inner circle on Iran policy, under the auspices of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Israel is concerned the nuclear deal will validate Iran’s nuclear program, embolden Iran to continue its destabilizing actions across the Middle East and encourage proliferation at a time when Israel feels it may be losing its “qualitative military edge,” which is official U.S. policy.
“We urge the U.S. administration to create a discreet, high-level mechanism with the Israeli government to identify and implement responses to each of these concerns,” wrote the authors of the letter, which included Dennis Ross, known for his involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and a former adviser to Obama on Iran, and the former head of the CIA David Petraeus, who was overseeing covert operations targeting Iran until his resignation two years ago.
The authors also called on Obama to commit to the use of military force to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb, if necessary.
The authors urged the U.S. to “bolster any agreement by doing more in the region to check Iran and support our traditional friends and allies,” which includes putting Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq and Syria on the U.S. terrorist list. The former advisers called on the U.S. to prevent Iranian weapons shipments throughout the Middle East, such as rocket and missile shipments to Hezbollah, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
And they called on the U.S. to boost its cooperation with friendly countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Yemen, where officials have said Iran plays a role backing anti-government rebels. They encouraged the U.S. to approach Turkey about creating a safe-haven for refugees of the Syrian civil war.
“Taking the actions we propose while the nuclear negotiations continue will reinforce the message that Iran must comply with any agreement and will not be allowed to pursue a nuclear weapon,” they wrote. “This will increase, not decrease, the chance that Iran will comply with the agreement and may ultimately adopt a more constructive role in the region. For the U.S. administration’s hopes in this respect have little chance so long as Iran’s current policy seems to be succeeding in expanding its influence.”
The letter stemmed from concerns that the U.S. was currently pursuing what many have labeled a “bad deal,” one that fails to address all concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program and guarantee that the U.S. will punish Iran should it be found to cheat.
After Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei rejected this week inspections at military installations or sites that raised concerns with international nuclear monitors, as well as a deal whose scope exceeds the next decade, the authors of the letter to Obama worried that the deal “may fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a ‘good’ agreement.”
The letter came as negotiators from Iran, the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, France and Germany convened for the final stretch before the June 30 deadline for reaching a deal, which the authors urged the Obama administration not to treat as “inviolable.”
Once the deal is finalized, the Obama administration will present it to Congress, which will be able to override the agreement if it achieves a two-thirds majority.