We know, we know. NBC News has an exclusive interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the US agreement with Iran on their evening news program tonight, but have had it available on line since before Barack Obama’s presser earlier today. Netanyahu tells Lester Holt that he and the Sunni Arab nations see this as a tremendous loss for their own security, but also for ours as well:
“We think this is not only a threat to us. We think this is a threat to you as well,” Netanyahu said, a day after Iran and six world powers, including the U.S., reached the historic agreement. “Iran has killed more Americans than anyone other than al Qaeda.”
“They’re going to get hundreds of billions of dollars to fuel their terror and military machine,” he added.
Netanyahu’s wariness is shared by the Arab world, where countries expressed skepticism that a deal would really prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon, and voiced fears that Iran would only gain more in the region without economic sanctions.
“When Arabs and Israelis agree, it’s worth paying attention,” Netanyahu said Wednesday.
Netanyahu makes a strong point about this outcome. It might have been worth it had the deal either resulted in curtailing Iran’s terror operations, or in eliminating its nuclear capability. It does neither, and only impacts nuclear development for a relatively short period even if Iran doesn’t cheat. “They’ve been given their yellowcake,” Netanyahu explains, “and can eat it too.”
That point got underscored by Obama earlier today. In his presser, Obama admitted that the deal would not permanently prevent Iran from continuing its nuclear development, and does nothing at all to stop its terror operations:
Now, we’ll still have problems with Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism: its funding of proxies like Hezbollah that threaten Israel and threaten the region, the destabilizing activities that they’re engaging in, including in places like Yemen.
And my hope is that building on this deal, we can continue to have conversations with Iran that incentivize them to behave differently in the region, to be less aggressive, less hostile, more cooperative, to operate the way we expect nations in the international community to behave. But we’re not counting on it.
So this deal is not contingent on Iran changing its behavior. It’s not contingent on Iran suddenly operating like a liberal democracy. It solves one particular problem, which is making sure they don’t have a bomb. And the point I’ve repeatedly made and I believe is hard to dispute is that it’ll be a lot easier for us to check Iran’s nefarious activities, to push back against the other areas where they operate contrary to our interests or our allies’ interests if they don’t have the bomb.
And — and so will they change their behavior? Will we seek to gain more cooperation from them in resolving issues like Syria or what’s happening in Iraq, to stop encouraging Houthis in Yemen, we’ll continue to engage with them.
So what exactly did we get out of this negotiation? We got the chance to woo the mullahs in an attempt to convince them to stop using terrorism to gain hegemony over the region. That may be Hope and Change to the White House, but to Israel and our Sunni allies, it looks like Hi-ho, Silver, away!