A group of israeli experts last week laid out what they believe would be a “reasonable” final nuclear deal with Iran, namely allowing Iran some civilian enrichment capacity, widening the time it takes for Iran to build a nuclear weapons should it choose that path, and making sure the Iranians come clean about its past nuclear weapons work.
“From my point of view,” said retired Israeli Defense Forces Brigadier General Shlomo Brom at an event last week sponsored by the Center for American Progress and Molad, a progressive Israeli think tank, “a reasonable deal is a deal that lessens the break out time so there will be enough time to react if Iran will decide to break out towards a nuclear bomb.”
Brom said that he thinks that allowing Iran some uranium enrichment capacity as part of a final deal is “reasonable,” adding that it would not be “a disaster.”
“I think that anyone that thinks that a deal, even a good deal, can be concluded without letting Iran to have some capabilities for enriching uranium and producing nuclear fuel is, anyone that thinks so is deluding themselves,” he said.
Helit Barel, board member and former CEO of the Israeli Council for Peace and Security, agreed, saying that the so-called “zero enrichment” option “is not a feasible outcome.”
Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-Israeli analyst and lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, said that both Israeli and Iranian narratives on the issue need to be satisfied in order for a final deal to work.
For Israelis, he said, “It’s extremely important that as part of the final deal, we know about Iran’s previous — and we don’t know, some people say current — military nuclear activity. This is something that we’ll have to get to the end of.”
As for the Iranians, Javedanfar noted that many in Iran believe that enrichment capabilities as part of the nuclear program is their right — a position the Obama administration disagrees with. He added that “hopefully” there would be a deal reached “that allows Iran to have some limited enrichment on its soil so that the people of Iran, their right is also recognized.” He explained:
“We want a deal to be sustainable. If we leave Iran with zero enrichment, five years down the line now imagine sanctions are removed everything is back to normal, five years down the line somebody else comes up and says, ‘Well they took our right away’ and then they will start again. Are we going to be able to build the same coaltion that we have now? It’s going to be very unlikely.”
“The bottom line,” Barel said, “is, what’s the break out capability, how long is it?” She also said the conflation of the nuclear issue with Iranian support for terrorism and its “meddling” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “very destructive.”
“I think the nulcear issue stands beyond all of these,” she said. “These other issues do not need to be neglected or ignored but let’s not lump them together. This is not a peace agreement between Israel and Iran. This is not a peace agreement between Iran and the West. This is an agreement about the nuclear issue. And if other things come from it then they come from it.”
One senior Obama administration official said last week that the P5+1 and Iran are “getting down to serious business” and that drafting the final agreement will begin in May. “I’m absolutely convinced that we can” complete the deal by the end of July, the official said, according to the Washington Post, “although the real issue is not whether you can write the words on paper … it’s about the choices that Iran has to make. Some of them are very difficult.”
According to Reuters, the Iranians appear equally upbeat about the pace and process of the negotiations, with on Iranian official saying recent expert-level talks “were useful, [and] raised mutual insight into our differing positions.”