Report: Netanyahu Believes Obama Admin Insults Were Bid to Weaken Israel’s Hand on Iran
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his associates think slanders recently published against him in the name of a senior White House official were intended to soften public opinion toward a developing major US agreement with Iran, Israel’s NRG News reported Tuesday.
Netanyahu believes that the Obama administration wants to minimize Israel’s visibility in the United States, in order to muffle attempts to delegitimize such a deal, one that Israeli officials fear would allow Teheran a “breakout” ability to quickly assemble a nuclear weapon.
However, at this point, Netanyahu plans to work behind the scenes and is not planning an overt media campaign to block the agreement, according to the report.
“It’s too late for him to do anything,” an official quoted in the Atlantic article said, referring to Netanyahu’s options to thwart a deal he and many Israelis view as an existential threat to the Jewish State.
“Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late,” the anonymous official said, according to author Jeffery Goldberg.
According to a second official, “The feeling now is that Bibi’s bluffing,” and that “he’s not Begin at Osirak” – referencing Israel’s lightning strike in 1981 that destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes likened an Iranian nuclear deal to ObamaCare in a talk to progressive activists last January, according to audio obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The remarks, made at a since-discontinued regular meeting of White House personnel and representatives of liberal interest groups, reveal the importance of a rapprochement with Iran to President Obama, who is looking to establish his legacy as his presidency enters its lame-duck phase.
Ironically, 35 years ago, on November 4, 1979, Iranian rioters – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly among them – stormed the US Embassy in Tehran, and took dozens of Americans hostage.
The quote “reflects the Obama Administration’s policy, which has been engagement with Iran and not military preemption,” said Yoram Ettinger, retired Minister for Congressional Affairs in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. with the rank of Ambassador. “ANY [diplomatic] deal with Iran, in Obama’s mind, is better than military preemption.”
Ettinger also believes that failing to remove the threat of a nuclear Iran is a policy mistake for Obama, more so than a threat to Israel, as the United States is Iran’s chief target. “Israel is only a tertiary, or even 4th rate target for Iran. The United States is their number one target, followed by US-friendly oil producing Gulf states, and then perhaps NATO.”
Last week, in response to the harsh epithets hurled at him by senior US officials, including that he was “chickenshit,” “a coward” and was “Aspergery,” Netanyahu said that “The attack on me was just because I’m defending the State of Israel. Our supreme interests, first and foremost the security and unity of Jerusalem, do not meet the top priority of those anonymous sources who attack us, and me personally.”
Political sources aver that Netanyahu is talking “with anyone he can,” to convince the representatives of six world powers negotiating with Tehran that the emerging agreement will make Iran a nuclear threshold state, one that will inevitably drag the Middle East into a nuclear race and impose a constant existential threat against Israel.
Israel is very worried that, by some accounts, the US, and the five other powers (Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany), plan to leave Iran with the means to build a nuclear weapon.
“We are standing before the danger of an agreement that will leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state, with thousands of centrifuges through which Iran can manufacture the material for a nuclear bomb within a short period of time,” Netanyahu said in a recent address.
In addition, the agreement ignores the emerging ballistic missile system Iran is developing. According to emerging details, Iran will agree to certain restrictions on its nuclear program in return for the West removing heavy sanctions imposed on its economy in recent years. At this stage it is unclear whether sanctions will be removed immediately or gradually.
The next round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 will be held next week simultaneously in Oman and Vienna. In Muscat, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, the outgoing European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton (who continues to hold the Iran portfolio for the time being) will meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
This meeting will be crucial as the deadline for reaching an agreement by November 24 quickly closes in.
At the same time, there will be a routine meeting in Vienna of the negotiating teams to discuss details of the deal. While the Americans and Iranians are very interested in reaching an agreement, at this stage, it’s not clear if it’s doable. US National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, was recently quoted as saying that the odds are less than fifty percent. However, some of President Obama’s advisers are very determined to reach an agreement, so all options are open.
Secretary-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, revealed on Saturday that Iran had ceased to answer questions about military operations in the nuclear field.
In remarks at the Brookings Institution in Washington on “Iranian violation of the Interim Agreement,” Amano said that the agency has reliable information that the nuclear program had “military characteristics,” but, due to lack of Iranian cooperation, the Agency was unable to prove anything.
Meanwhile, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, said that “Iran’s refusal to disclose its nuclear past casts a shadow on the future. Only complete exposure of nuclear tests in the past, will allow reaching an agreement that provides for the future.
Amano’s harsh words point, in fact, to the first Iranian violation of the Interim Agreement, based on an understanding assuming full Iranian cooperation with the IAEA. According to Stenitz, signing a definitive agreement under such conditions would be a reckless act by the wourld powers, and one to be avoided.
“It won’t be a good agreement,” he told Army radio Sunday. “We are doing our best to make sure it’s not a catastrophe.”