Is­raeli de­fense ex­perts warn against drop­ping Iran nuke deal

The Garden Island - - Morning Briefing -

JERUSALEM — If Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump moves to scut­tle the land­mark 2015 nu­clear deal with Iran, Is­rael’s na­tion­al­ist govern­ment can be ex­pected to be the loud­est — and per­haps only — ma­jor player to ap­plaud.

But the true pic­ture is more com­pli­cated than what Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu might por­tray: There is a strong sense among his own se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment that there are few good al­ter­na­tives, that the deal has ben­e­fited Is­rael, and that U.S. cred­i­bil­ity could be squan­dered in the tur­bu­lent Mid­dle East in ways that could harm Is­rael it­self.

That is not to say that Is­rael’s re­spected se­cu­rity chiefs are all pleased with ev­ery as­pect of the Iran deal. But af­ter Ne­tanyahu de­clared at the United Na­tions last month that it was time to “fix it or nix it,” the pre­vail­ing at­ti­tude among se­cu­rity ex­perts seems to be that fix­ing it is the best way to go.

“It seems to me that the less risky ap­proach is to build on the ex­ist­ing agree­ment, among other rea­sons be­cause it does set con­crete lim­i­ta­tions on the Ira­ni­ans,” said Uzi Arad, a for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser to Ne­tanyahu. “It im­poses ceil­ings and bench­marks and ver­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tems that you do not want to lose. Why lose it?”

Is­rael con­sid­ers Iran to be its great­est foe, cit­ing its decades of hos­tile rhetoric, sup­port for anti-Is­rael mil­i­tant groups and its de­vel­op­ment of long-range mis­siles. Is­raeli de­ci­sion-mak­ers see a nu­clear-armed Iran as an ex­is­ten­tial threat.

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