We learned a lot from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s televised presentation about Iran’s nuclear weapons program Monday, April 30, and almost all of it is bad.
The thousand pounds of files, smuggled out from a secret Tehran facility, show that, despite its repeated denials, Iran has long sought to develop nuclear weapons.
We can’t say how much is new information and how much is just confirmation of what was always obvious about Iran’s military ambitions. Anything truly revelatory wouldn’t be exposed on prime-time television before going through exhaustive study and confirmation by the Mossad’s allied intelligence agencies.
But we do have confirmation, in case there was any doubt, that Netanyahu has no credibility in the international community. Like the boy who cried “Ayatollah Wolf” before a joint session of Congress, his claims about Iran have been too frequent and too urgent. No one who matters is listening anymore, with the possible exception of President Donald Trump, who could use the presentation to justify anything he was already planning about pulling out of or demanding renegotiation of the 2015 nuclear deal.
We also have confirmation, in case there was any doubt, that regardless of the terms, once the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was signed and Europe began to roll back tough sanctions against Iran, the game was over. Our European allies like doing business with Iran far too much and are far too tired or too fearful of commitments in the Middle East after nearly two decades of numbing levels of death and destruction to get tough with Tehran now.
Netanyahu’s presentation was derided as soon as he spoke, long before any serious analysis of the evidence, and it was dismissed in a way that indicates the messenger wasn’t the only problem. Leaders such as the European Union’s Federica Mogherini were quick to rationalize anything as a reason not to reconsider the deal, but to be reassured of its value.
It doesn’t matter that Iran just confirmed advances in refining technology that demonstrate its enrichment research goes on, preparing for the day the deal’s limitations run out. It doesn’t matter if the windfall Iran received through the JCPOA, none of which is benefiting Iran’s people, is being used to accelerate that research. It doesn’t matter how many armed drones Iran flies over Israel or how many bases it establishes in Syria or how many missiles it ships to Hezbollah. It all somehow justifies the value of a decade’s delay, and nothing short of a nuclear missile launch is going to change our allies’ minds.
The one ray of sunshine is that the Mossad demonstrated its ability to pull off an intelligence coup. Unless this was a clever plot to confirm that it has nothing to fear from Europe, no matter the revelations, Iran didn’t want 100,000 documents about its nuclear program exposed to the world. Israel’s ability to find and spirit away such a treasure-trove should prove again to the CIA, MI-6 and other Western intelligence agencies they need a strong Israel as their forward listening post in the Middle East.
So if push ever truly comes to shove and Iran in a decade or so unveils its shiny nuclear arsenal mounted atop ballistic missiles that can reach London if not New York, we can expect most of the nations that signed the accord with the Tehran regime to say the right things about standing with Israel. We can only hope it’s not too late.