Netanyahu failed to make Iranian nuclear deal ‘a Jewish issue’ in US
RT: President Obama has lashed out at Israel for its opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal, saying its government has gone against the world by refusing to support the agreement. Obama was tough on Israel there, were you surprised?
Conn Hallinan: I was a little surprised. The Israelis started this fight, Netanyahu started this fight because actually the Israeli military, and the Israeli intelligence apparatuses are on board with the Iran agreement. It’s the Netanyahu government that is not. They started this and at this point Obama is really making this a kind of a double-down proposal.
I tend to think what’s going to happen is that you are going to see the agreement rejected by Congress then vetoed by the president, but with enough votes so that they can’t overcome the veto. The strongest argument that the Obama administration is going to make is that if Congress actually does reject this proposal, not only will there be no restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program, but essentially the US will be completely isolated. We are not the only people who are negotiating here. The Russians are negotiating, the English are negotiating, the French, the Germans, the Chinese are negotiating. These are the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany. We will be completely isolated from those countries and that’s the last thing the Obama administration wants.
The Israelis don’t particularly care. Whether or not they are going to be able to sway the Congress, again I tend to think they will reject it the first time, but I think the veto will be upheld.
RT: We've seen quite a standoff between Obama and Netanyahu over the deal. Where is it going to end?
CH: I don’t know where it’s going to end. The fact is that Obama is a lame duck president and he will be out in another year. I don’t know how long Netanyahu is going to be around; he has just got back into his position. I do think that there is a growing sentiment in Israel and certainly in the Jewish community here in the US that Netanyahu is burning a lot of bridges that Israelis don’t want burned and that American Jews don’t want burned. In fact, a majority of American Jews at this point support the Iran agreement and so the effort by Netanyahu to make this a Jewish issue has certainly failed in the US.
It’s still a majority in Israel, but there is growing criticism particularly from the military and the intelligence side. There is a really nasty fight. I think partly what’s happened is that Obama has lost patience with Netanyahu.
RT: Congress will have only two weeks to review the agreement after it returns from its summer break. What are we likely to expect, given that such tough rhetoric and pressure is already being used?
CH: That’s interesting because I know there are going to be people who are going to try and play it down and “Don’t make such a breach here.” But I think this is up to Netanyahu administration and Netanyahu has shown in very single case that he doubles down. The fact that he went before the Congress and gave a speech on this before the Congress without checking with the [Obama] administration indicates how deep this fissure is. I don’t see that being repaired, although I do think the administration will try to keep the sharp rhetoric down, but it depends on Netanyahu, it depends upon what it is that Netanyahu is going to say and what he is going to do. I think he is going to lose this one. I don’t know what effect this is going to have on his administration in Israel.
‘Iran nuclear deal based on inspections, not trust’
Middle East expert Paul Heroux suggests that the Republican alternatives to the Iranian deal are going to lead to war and their approach is basically to have all their demands met and give nothing to Iran.
RT: Barack Obama has not ruled out the possibility of military action against Iran. What do you read into this announcement?
Paul Heroux: What’s happening is that the Republican alternatives to the deal are basically going to bring us on a path to war because there are only a couple of options here. One of them is to do nothing, which is not an option, another one is to let the sanctions be lifted and have some type of joint comprehensive agreement, which is our second option and that’s the one we are looking at. And the third one is to try and deter Iran from a nuclear program through harsher sanctions, which is something that the rest of the world doesn’t want to agree to, or we can do a sort of a hawk approach, which will be the fourth approach actually, and that would be to try and target Iran’s nuclear facilities. But that right there would probably just have Iran dig their heels in and actually find reason to seek a nuclear weapon, which is something that they have not done at this time.
RT: How likely is Congress to approve the deal after Obama's strong words?
PH: The Republican approach is one where they want to have all of their demands met and give nothing to Iran. But doing that is going to almost ensure that Iran would cheat under the alternative proposals that the Republicans have offered, because there is nothing in it for the Iranians.
RT: While Obama insists a no deal will mean war, Israel says war will happen if Congress approves the deal. Where does the truth lie?
PH: I doubt very much there is going to be war. I think that’s a lot of fear mongering and it’s the sort of thing where we have certain pundits inside the US and out who are trying to say that this is such a bad deal that it’s going to lead to war. But that’s just not the case. This is a good plan; it blocks the four different pathways that Iran could pursue a nuclear weapon: two uranium plants in Natanz and Fordo, the plutonium plant and then there’s covert action as an option Iran could take. But all four of these are blocked through the plan and it’s not based on trust; it’s based on the inspections, the most unprecedented inspections in the history of non-proliferation. So a lot of folks that are saying this is going to lead to war are saying that because they are trying to scare people into agreeing that this is a bad deal, but this is largely politics not policy.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.