Israeli defense experts warn against dropping Iran nuke deal
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.