Retired Israeli Brigadier Gen. Elihu Ben-Onn says Israelis are very upset with the nuclear agreement in Geneva that relaxes sanctions against Iran in exchange for a freeze in enrichment and no curbs on weapons programs. He also fears the U.S. and our allies fell prey to the smiling diplomacy of Tehran.
“The Iranians try to gain time. They start what we call the smiles operation. Suddenly the foreign minister of Iran Mohammad Zarif starts smiling. The new leader Rouhani is also smiling. All of them know how to speak English. All of them went to American colleges, so the enemy is not so frightening as it might have been before. If they are nice and speak good English, maybe they are nice guys,” said Ben-Onn.
“This is a misleading operation, a smiling operation, but they haven’t reached the point that the Iranians really decided to stop what they started. In other words, one day we may wake up in the morning and find Iran again in a position that can threaten the entire free world and Saudi Arabia and Israel and other countries in the Middle East who may be the victims of this policy,” said Ben-Onn.
So why does did a multilateral team led by the United States agree to this deal? Ben-Onn believes President Obama was determined to find a diplomatic resolution rather than get close to the possibility of U.S. troops being deployed again in the Middle East after years of being in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It’s better to speak than to fight I can assure you. I was in many wars and I know what I’m talking about,” said Ben-Onn. “I don’t know what to predict but I can tell you we are very worried about what will be the outcome of this agreement.
Ben-Onn says just 48 hours after the deal was signed in Geneva, Iran is already showing it has little intention of honoring the deal, with leaders in Tehran saying the document it signed does not contain the same terms as what the U.S. has released to the press.
Israel was not a part of the negotiations, and Ben-Onn says government ministers have assured him the deal will not impact Israeli leaders from acting in the national interest.
“They say if Israel will be under danger, then this agreement in Switzerland does not apply to Israel and Israel always has the right to defend ourselves against any threat or any enemy that might attack Israel in the future,” said Ben-Onn.
While unimpressed with the temporary deal, Ben-Onn says he hopes the U.S. drives a hard bargain in negotiations over a permanent agreement that will result in the eradication of the Iranian nuclear weapons program.