Who'd a thunk it? Dennis Ross backs Netanyahu
Dennis Ross, who was President Obama's representative to the Iran negotiations early in his term, has come out backing Prime Minister Netanyahu, urging President Obama not to ignore the Prime Minister's concerns
While the Obama administration is unlikely to accept his argument
that it should simply negotiate better and harder, it should not dismiss
the concerns Netanyahu raises about the emerging deal. Indeed, the administration's argument
that there is no better alternative than the deal it is negotiating
begs the question of whether the prospective agreement is acceptable.
And, here, the administration needs to explain why the deal it is trying to conclude actually will prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons for the lifetime of the agreement and afterwards. It needs to explain why the combination of
the number and quality of centrifuges, their output, and the ship-out
from Iran of enriched uranium will, in fact, ensure that the break-out
time for the Iranians will not be less than one year. Either this
combination adds up or it does not, but there should be an explicit
answer to Netanyahu's charge that Iran will be able to break out much more quickly.
Similarly, there should be an answer on how the verification regime
is going to work to ensure that we can detect, even in a larger nuclear
program, any Iranian violation of the agreement. The issue of
verification is critical not just because Iran's past clandestine nuclear efforts prove it cannot be trusted, but also because the administration has made a one-year break-out time the key measure of success
of the agreement. But we can be certain that Iran will be one year
away from being able to produce a bomb's supply of weapons-grade uranium
only if we can detect what they are doing when they do it.
detection is only part of the equation. We cannot wait to determine
what we will do about violations when they happen. Iran must know in
advance what the consequences are for violations, particularly if we
want to deter them in the first place. This clearly goes to the heart of
Netanyahu's concerns: If he had high confidence that we would impose harsh consequences
in response to Iranian violations, including the use of force if we
caught Iran dashing toward a weapon, he would be less fearful of the
agreement he believes is going to emerge.
But he does not see that, and he fears that, as with past arms control agreements,
we will seek to discuss violations and not respond to them until it is
too late. The administration should address this fear and prove it
means what it says by spelling out different categories of violations
and the consequences for each — and then seek congressional
authorization to empower this president and his successors to act on
If applied also to Iranian moves toward a
nuclear weapon after the expiration of the deal, the administration
would truly be answering the most significant of the concerns that Netanyahu raised.
Labels: Barack Hussein Obama, Binyamin Netanyahu, Dennis Ross, Iranian nuclear threat, P 5+1