J Street welcomes a statement by 26 former top-ranking Israeli military and security officials urging the United States to maintain the nuclear agreement with Iran. Their important letter deserves to be widely studied as one of the most significant contributions to the current debate, as President Trump weighs pulling out of an agreement that has been successful in blocking all Iranian pathways to a nuclear weapon.
Particularly noteworthy is the letter’s unequivocal statement that the deal is working and that a US decision to pull out would undermine Israel’s security.
As these security leaders make clear, “The consensus among military and intelligence agencies around the world — including Israel’s own defense community — is that the pact is working… Israel’s security interests would be served best if the United States chooses to remain in the agreement, and work with its allies and other parties to the agreement on further diplomatic actions to address other aspects of Iranian policy in the Middle East.”
An administration and a president who claim to be strong allies of Israel should take this statement extremely seriously. We urge members of Congress and others with influence to take the arguments of these battle-tested Israeli veterans to heart and to bring to bear all their persuasive powers on President Trump before he takes a totally unwarranted decision that could have dire consequences for our nation, the Middle East and our ally Israel. It is not too late to avert disaster.
The text of the letter is below:
April 25th, 2018
As former military officers and leaders in Israeli security agencies, we believe it is in Israel’s best interest that the United States maintains the nuclear agreement with Iran.
One of the greatest threats facing Israel has been the possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons. For more than two years, that threat has been blocked by the Iran nuclear agreement.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has consistently and repeatedly found Iran to be in compliance with its obligations as ordered by the agreement. The consensus among military and intelligence agencies around the world — including Israel’s own defense community — is that the pact is working. While we acknowledge several caveats do exist in the deal, we are also in simultaneous agreement that ‘The Current Deal is Better Than No Deal’.
American abandonment of the agreement would undermine not just the deal, but Israel’s security as well. It would cause a division on a central question of Middle East security between the United States and Israel’s European allies. By doing so, it would further empower the deal’s hardline Iranian opponents — and most importantly The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Iran’s destructive regional policies and actions, its support for acts of terrorism, its presence in Syria and its ballistic missiles program should be dealt with outside the framework of the agreement, and US allies are willing to do that if the agreement is kept. They are also willing to agree on steps that will be taken if Iran were to take steps toward a nuclear weapon when the sunset clauses come into effect after 10-15 years.
Should US abandonment of the agreement lead to the pact’s demise, the consequences for Israeli security could be even more dire. Iran could resume the full scope of its former nuclear activities — or advance well beyond them ahead of time — unrestricted and unmonitored. Israel and its allies would be forced to consider taking drastic measures to attempt to restrain or destroy Iran’s nuclear program, including military operations that might trigger a major escalation and drive the entire region into direct confrontation, with no guarantee of achieving their goal.
Accordingly, we believe Israel’s security interests would be served best if the United States chooses to remain in the agreement, and work with its allies and other parties to the agreement on further diplomatic actions to address other aspects of Iranian policy in the Middle East.