Israeli intelligence: Getting Trump to dump Iran-nuclear deal dangerous

Israeli intelligence: Getting Trump to dump Iran-nuclear deal dangerous
Binyamin Netanyahu has looked favourably upon Trump's calls to renege the Iran nuclear deal. However, recent Israeli intelligence assessments argue revoking the deal could constitute a serious error.
3 min read
20 January, 2017
Trump was inaugurated as the 45th US President on Friday [AFP]

During his election campaign Donald Trump won praise from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his repeated calls to renege a historic nuclear deal signed by Washington with Tehran if he won office.

However figures within Israel’s defence establishment think that if Trump goes back on the deal it could negatively impact the Jewish state.

According to a report published in Haaretz on Friday an intelligence assessment recently presented to Netanyahu argued that revoking the flagship Vienna agreement could constitute a serious error.

In particular, the report, says Haaretz, argues that revoking the agreement could create a schism between the US and the other five states that signed the agreement, particularly Russia and China and also lead Iran to re-start its nuclear programme, a development that would not be in Israel’s best interests.

Instead of opposing the nuclear agreement, ex-military officials who spoke to Haaretz argued that Netanyahu should have sought to tighten security coordination with Washington and attempt to work with the Obama administration to identify Iranian violations of the agreement.

They also argue that by ending up at loggerheads with the Obama administration, Netanyahu has stymied the flow of American security aid to Israel, with the $38 billion over a 10 year period pledged by Obama to the Jewish state in September less than initially expected.

While Israel’s army and defence organisations have not been authorised to speak about the potential implications of a Trump presidency, retired members of the military are permitted to do so.

“The act of cancelling the agreement will negate the legitimacy of our positions in the international community,” said Amos Yadlin, the executive director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, speaking to Haaretz.

“When a conflict with Iran develops, the other powers will blame us for dragging Trump into doing this. They will not come to our aid.”

Instead, argues Yadlin Trump should allow the deal to stand, and as a non-signatory to the agreement, he will still be afforded the opportunity to adopt a tougher approach to Iran without undoing its terms.

Yadlin’s sentiments are shared by Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash, a former head of Israel’s Military Intelligence.

“Despite its flaws. The correct alternative lies in a coordinated American–Israeli move that will also prepare to deal with Iranian violations during the period of the agreement and also with the gradual lifting of the restrictions on Tehran, nine years from now,” said Ze’evi-Farkash, also speaking to Haaretz.

Trump was inaugurated in a ceremony held in Washington on Friday, and has been viewed by figures within the Israeli administration as a natural ally.

In addition to pledges to renege the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, Trump has also said that he will move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel.

Demonstrations were held in Nablus, Ramallah, and Hebron on Thursday in opposition to such plans, with Israeli security forces on high alert that Trump’s inauguration could spark further unrest.