The Nuclear Options


It's time to move on from the fuss surrounding Netanyahu's speech before the U.S. Congress and focus on the threat posed by Iran.

By now you’re no doubt weary of the spinmeisters’ midweek quarterbacking of Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. If so, you’re not alone. 
The last six weeks have been a nightmare in U.S-Israel relations. Seasoned analysts have been hard put to recall such a deep and public schism between the two allies in recent times. There’s plenty of blame to assign to all the parties involved, and one’s political persuasion will likely color that determination.
Now, however, it’s time for everyone to move on.
What matters most is restoring bipartisan support for this critical relationship, which one political analyst said this week is “too big to fail.” We hope that he is right, but it will take some work.
Equally critical is what comes next in the efforts to reach a deal with Iran to roll back its nuclear capacity.
Although dismissed as “nothing new” by President Barack Obama and many Israeli pundits as well, Netanyahu’s remarks delivered a powerful, passionate and cogent assessment of the Iranian nuclear threat.
He is right, as the leader of the Jewish state, to be highly suspicious and sound the alarm about the talks as they are reportedly proceeding. He did not, as many expected, argue in his speech to Congress against any deal with Iran, only against one that would leave the country with enough centrifuges to move quickly to enrich the uranium needed to develop nuclear weapons and/or against one that would expire in a decade or so, risking that Iran could then resume its program free of restraints or restrictions.
That’s where Congress comes in. The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015, which already has bipartisan support, would renew temporarily waived sanctions against Iran and bring even stronger measures if a final agreement is not reached. It would also allow congressional review of any agreement, and the presidential right to delay sanctions by 30 days at a time as needed, giving American negotiators some flexibility.
This legislation, lobbied for by thousands of activists on Capitol Hill this week for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference, should move forward despite the threat of a veto by the president.
Once again, this debate is heating up as we celebrate the festival of Purim. It’s hard not to make the analogy, as Netanyahu did in his speech, that 2,500 years ago, a Persian political figure sought to destroy the Jews. Today, a despot in that same land is threatening to wipe out Israel.
We pray that the world powers have the wisdom to seal only a deal that would prevent, not merely contain, a nuclear Iran. Congressional input can only help make that happen. 


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