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Friday, January 19, 2018

When U.S. President Barack Obama dispatches his negotiators to Baghdad next week to join talks with Iran over the future of its nuclear program, he’ll be most concerned about the reaction of one man: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Obama believes that Barak, and not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is the Israeli leader agitating most vociferously for a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, a strike the Obama administration thinks would be grossly premature and quite possibly catastrophic. (Your humble columnist concurs with this assessment.)

If Barak sees these talks as productive — especially in light of evidence that the U.S. and its allies are doing a credible job of keeping Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold — then Obama will have successfully pushed off an Israeli strike, at least until after the U.S. presidential election in November.

Barak has made clear that he seeks one thing above all in the nuclear talks: for Iran to shut down its formerly secret nuclear enrichment facility at Fordo, near the city of Qom. Obama has made Barak’s preoccupation with Fordo his own.

It’s not hard to see why both men see Fordo as a crucial component of Iran’s nuclear program. Once Iran moves its enrichment program to Fordo — which is built inside a mountain and has hardened defenses against nearly all conventional munitions — it will probably have entered a “zone of immunity,” in which Israel would no longer be able to cripple its centrifuges. (The Israelis, like the Obama administration and many international experts, don’t doubt that Iran would seek to build a nuclear weapon if political and technical conditions allowed for it.)

For Barak, keeping Iran outside the zone of immunity is paramount. If Iran moves its nuclear program beyond the reach of the Israeli air force, Netanyahu and Barak believe they will have outsourced the security of their nation to the U.S., which has more advanced weaponry. But in Barak’s estimation, the U.S. has gone 0-2 in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons to hostile, unstable countries. Pakistan and North Korea both built and tested nuclear weapons over U.S. objections. Barak has pointed out that Israel is 2-0 in the same arena, having destroyed nuclear facilities in both Iraq and Syria from the air.

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Copyright 2012 The National Memo

2 Responses to In Iran Nuke Talks, Ehud Barak Is Man To See

  1. The President and you are totally correct in your assessment that the bombing of Iran would be a disaster. I served in the Peace Corps in Iran and have taught hundreds of Iranian students English in the succeeding years and I know the people. Any attack on Iran will drive the moderates and those who wish for a more democratic government into the arms of the radicals in charge. There is hope, however. Iranians love to bargain and I believe that patient, long diplomacy will bring about a solution to the problem. There is more to it than this somewhat simplistic post but that’s for another day.

  2. I agree with the Presidents assessment of the Iranian situation, an Air strike should be taken off the table at this time. However it should be made perfectly clear that Israel WILL NOT allow a nuclear Iran. If the Iranians succeed in moving their nuclear facilities to Fordo maybe their facilities will be immune to an air strike, but not “Grunts”. If the Iranians do not want open warfare with Israel they have to either stop the program or just leave it where it is, out in the open. If it a truly peaceful program they will then have nothing to worry about.

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