By Michael Jacobs / mjacobs@atljewishtimes.com

Bret Stephens for Atlanta Jewish Times.

The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens delivers the keynote address at the AJC gala May 4.

Don’t expect a deal this summer on Iran’s nuclear program because Iran is likely to walk away, Wall Street Journal Pulitzer Prize winner Bret Stephens said Monday night, May 4.

Stephens told an American Jewish Committee gala audience that Iran will believe it can return to the negotiating table at any time with the final offer from the United States as a starting point for a better deal.

But he said the world must stop Iran’s nuclear progress because a regime that will stone to death women with one hand can’t be allowed to wield nukes in the other hand.

Stephens criticized President Barack Obama’s push to establish a relationship with Iran despite no change of leadership or behavior, especially when Iran is winning on every front: Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the negotiating table.

The alternative to a bad deal is not necessarily war, especially if the United States remembers that diplomacy is about being coercive as well as nice and that the depressed price of oil weakens Iran, Stephens said.

But he said the Iranians must believe that all options are on the table when the United States says a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable. That means confronting the question of whether the unforeseen consequences of military action would be worse than the “dark world” in which the leading sponsor of terrorism has nuclear weapons.

As for how Israel will respond to a deal or lack of one, Stephens said the Jewish state can protect itself. “The state of Israel did not come into existence to showcase Jewish victimization or victimhood,” he said. “The state of Israel came into existence to end it.”