Former Israeli Intelligence Official Says U.S.-Iran Talks Would Be ‘Positive’ For Israel

Amos Yadlin (Photo: Haaretz)

Amos Yadlin, a former high-level Israeli military intelligence official, said in a paper he co-wrote and published yesterday that bilateral negotiations between the United States and Iran would be “a positive development” for Israel. Yadlin’s report comes on the heals of a New York Times report that Iran and the U.S. had agreed to bilateral negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program after the election. The White House and Iran have denied the Times’ report.

Israeli government officials have said they are unaware of any agreement; Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the U.S., said “we do not think Iran should be rewarded with direct talks.” But an anonymous “senior Israeli official” told the New York Times that “the Israelis were aware of the effort toward bilateral talks and were open to it.” Another Israeli official, Moshe Ya’alon, told Israeli radio that Israel had “no objections” and knew about the talks in advance.

In the paper, Yadlin and co-author Avner Golov say that negotiations could signify a productive shift in diplomacy with Iran:

“This degree of backpedalling, a complete U-turn from its official policy, is indicative of the effectiveness of the pressure exerted on Iran, and a signal of its capacity to bring about real change in the country’s policy.”

According to Haaretz, Yadlin and Golov say one-on-one talks between Iran and the U.S. would be a welcome alternative to “extreme options that are currently on the table: ‘a[n Iranian] bomb or a [Western or Israeli] bombardment’,” adding, “If the negotiations fail, the argument that all other options have been exhausted will be stronger, and there’s no way to prevent Iran’s nuclearization except a military strike.”

Yadlin, according to Haaretz was from 2006 to 2010: “the national assessor who played a central role in managing the overt and covert campaign against the Iranian uranium enrichment centrifuges in Natanz and Fordow.” In September, Yadlin spoke up for the first time against an early attack on Iran, saying: “They say that time has almost run out, but I say there still is time. The decisive year is not 2012 but 2013. Maybe even early 2014.” Yadlin also added: “I still think we should wait and see whether the heavy sanctions imposed in July 2012 will bring about a change, but up to now the change has not happened.”

Believing that an Iran with a nuclear weapon is a threat, the Obama administration and its European allies have implemented several rounds of crippling sanctions aimed at finding a diplomatic solution. The Congressional Research Service said in an October 15 report that the sanctions could be expected to produce a solution quickly: “Many judge that Iran might soon decide it needs a nuclear compromise to produce an easing of sanctions.” The report also finds that sanctions have resulted in a loss of nearly 1.5 million barrels of oil per day. Oil sales, according to the CRS, “provide about 70% of Iran’s government revenues.” Iran has also watched its currency spiral as a result of sanctions; according to the New York Times, the Iranian rial has “lost 40 percent of its value against the dollar.”