Israel’s new focus on the Iran nuclear deal

The interim nuclear agreement with Iran, touted by its proponents as a “historic deal”, has been described as a “historic mistake” by Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. How will Israel react in the months ahead? The answer is to be found in the struggle to shape the endgame deal.

The six-month deal is a mixed bag. On the positive side it stems the tide of Iranian nuclearisation by setting its clock slightly back, temporarily capping Iran’s nuclear facilities, array of centrifuges and stockpile of low-enriched uranium, and improving the monitoring regime. On the other hand, Iranian enrichment has been accepted as part of the endgame; the clock in the uranium and plutonium tracks continues to tick, albeit at a slower pace; Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium (enough for at least five bombs) remains intact; Iranian concessions are all reversible; and International Atomic Energy Agency concerns about military dimensions have not been addressed. It remains to be seen whether the sanctions relief will entice Iran to make further concessions in the final deal or will erode the sanctions regime as a whole.

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