Ex-Israeli Military Intel Chief Says Tough Iran Sanctions ‘Are Still Holding’


The former head of Israel’s military intelligence said this week that the easing of sanctions provided to Iran under the interim nuclear agreement has not lead to a collapse of the entire sanctions regime, as many opponents of the deal predicted.

As part of the interim deal reached last November, the six world powers — the U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia and Germany — agreed to provide Iran around $7 billion worth of sanctions relief in exchange for a freeze and roll-back of Iran’s nuclear program.

Critics of the deal such as those from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Foreign Policy Initiative claimed the limited relief would unravel the comprehensive and crippling oil and banking sanctions on Iran and thus, eliminate any incentive for Iran to negotiate over its nuclear program.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was perhaps the most vocal critic. “If the sanctions are eased,” he warned before the deal, “they will collapse. [Tehran] will get everything they want and we, as a collective, will get nothing.”

But Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, the former head of Israel’s Defense Intelligence, challenged that view at an event hosted by the German Marshall Fund on Sunday.

Yadlin, who is now director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, said he is confident the Iranians will make a deal because the sanctions regime left in place after the interim nuclear deal is still having a strong negative effect on the Iranian economy.

“They will be able to compromise,” he said. “This is a possibility that my institute is now researching deeply to see how much the sanctions are still effective because voices in my government told everybody that the relief from sanctions of the $7 billion that were given to the Iranians already will melt and will collapse the sanction regime.

“What we are seeing now that the sanctions very much like President Obama and Secretary Kerry predicted, are still holding,” Yadlin continued. “So there is hope that the Iranians will be willing to reach what I will call an acceptable deal.”

Other experts agree with Yadlin. “[I]t is an absurd assertion to suggest that companies are going to begin streaming back into Iran at a time when the sanctions that prevent any normal kind of business transactions will remain in place and the legal liability, not just on institutions but on individuals, is enormous,” said Brookings scholar Suzanne Maloney just after the interim deal was reached.

“For Iran, the sanctions relief provided in the [Geneva deal] is far short of what it needs to get its economy on track,” said former Obama administration official Robert Einhorn, also of Brookings, in a recent report on the nuclear talks with Iran.

Yadlin, like many in Israel’s security establishment, has generally been supportive of the diplomatic process with Iran and offered warnings about the negative consequences of a military attack. While Netanyahu and many of his allies in the U.S. have argued that Iran must not be allowed to enrich uranium for civilian use as part of any final agreement, Yadlin has said that such a scenario would amount to a “reasonable” deal.