A Israeli military intelligence assessment appears to dramatically undercut arguments by both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. hawks about the danger of a proposed nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1. An Israeli military official said that based on the report’s conclusions, a deal resulting in the easing of economic sanctions on Iran could serve to boost regional security and stability.
Speaking about the contours of the report, the official also said, according to the Christian Science Monitor, that Israel’s military intelligence does not think the demand that Iran end all uranium enrichment — one promoted by Netanyahu and hawks here in the United States — is realistic:
Tehran has already become a “nuclear threshold” country, building the infrastructure, fissile material and know-how necessary to build a nuclear weapon within a relatively short time if it decided to do so, the intelligence officer said.
Iran has not made that decision yet, according to the assessment — likely because US threats of attack deterred Iranian officials, he said.
“We see a bit of a possibility, although it’s quite problematic, of more … stability,” said the Israeli military officer, adding that that stability depends on the success of the negotiations with Iran “over the nuclear project, but more than that, over the relief of the sanctions on the Iranian economy.”
Saying that Iran was one of several countries that could buck the general turmoil across the region, according to the Monitor, the official explained that a successful negotiation would shore up domestic support for new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but that without one, he “would likely see a major dip in support and possible unrest, according to the military’s calculations.”
CAP expert Matt Duss recently highlighted one aspect of this point:
[A] nuclear deal offers the best hope of improvement on human rights in the near term. A successful negotiation that eases Iran’s economic situation while also securing what Iran sees as its nuclear rights could create momentum that would help Rouhani’s administration address these broader issues. “It would give [Rouhani] and his team more bargaining power with the hard-liners,” Iranian activist Taghi Rahmani said recently. “A successful deal would definitely, positively impact social and political conditions inside of Iran.”
“The intelligence assessment is that we think Iranian regime has legitimacy problems,” the Israeli intelligence officer said. “The fact that economic numbers are not good and that there is some kind of noise among the public — at least about the economic situation — makes challenges for the regime. That’s probably why Rouhani was elected in such large numbers more than anything else.”
Members of Israeli security establishment has warned for years about the negative consequences of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. This report from Israel’s military intelligence is the latest example of the Israel security establishment pushing back against Netanyahu’s campaign to derail what he thinks is a “bad” nuclear deal with Iran.
Former Israeli intelligence chiefs have said they are keeping the door open to a possible deal, with one, retired Gen. Amos Yadlin, saying it’s “reasonable” to achieve a nuclear deal that allows Iran some uranium enrichment capabilities. The former head of Israel’s domestic security service said earlier this month that the current U.S. policy on Iran “is a policy of wisdom.”
Editor’s note: this post has been updated for clarity. Some aspects of the Israeli military report have already been reported. The Christian Science Monitor’s story included a new analysis of the report from an unnamed Israeli official.