A group of more than 2,000 former high-ranking Israeli military, law enforcement, and intelligence community officials are warning the Biden administration against inking a new nuclear deal with Iran, saying the rush to negotiate with Iran directly endangers Israel and its newfound Arab allies.
The letter, penned by Israel's Defense & Security Forum, or Habithonistim, is the clearest sign to date that Israel and its Arab allies in the region are united in opposition to the Biden administration's efforts to rejoin the 2015 nuclear accord, which they view as fundamentally flawed and an immediate threat to regional stability. In addition to Israel, leaders from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia have expressed concerns about America's diplomacy with Iran and efforts to unwind sanctions that have brought the Islamic Republic to the brink of collapse.
"We are troubled that the Biden administration and a handful of European countries are promoting a return to the Iran deal while disregarding the concerns of those closest to Iran, most vulnerable to Iran, and most knowledgeable about Iran," the officials write in a letter obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon. "The Iranian regime explicitly and publicly seeks the destruction of our country and the toppling of governments of the Arab countries with whom we have made peace. Preventing Iran from obtaining the capability to build deliverable nuclear weapons and confronting the regime's malign activities are essential to preventing catastrophe."
The administration is still moving forward with its diplomatic efforts even in the face of public and private opposition from Israel and major Arab nations. Habithonistim's letter indicates the Israeli security establishment, which has served on the front lines in the ongoing war to suppress Iranian-backed terror groups like Hezbollah, opposes a new deal. Habithonistim's membership includes Israel Defense Forces generals, high-ranking officers from the intelligence community, the Shin Bet security agency, military, and law enforcement.
The leaders say the Biden administration's decision to hand Iran a lifeline threatens to undermine regional stability in the wake of Israel's landmark normalization agreements with Bahrain, the UAE, and other traditional Arab foes. "The dark cloud hanging over this future is the threat from Iran, including its nuclear program," they write.
The Israeli officials also outline several principles the administration and European powers should adhere to as they hold negotiations aimed at inking a revamped nuclear accord.
Firstly, there should not be a return to the original 2015 accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. That deal "failed to eliminate Iran's enrichment-related capabilities, gave Iran a pass on its undeclared nuclear activities, failed to require inspections of Iranian military facilities, legalized Iran's development of nuclear-capable missiles under international law, allowed Iran to proliferate precision-guided missiles throughout the Middle East, and failed to address the regime's sponsorship of terrorism," the Israeli officials say.
Restrictions on Iran's nuclear program and its enrichment of uranium should never expire, they maintain. The original accord included what are known as sunset clauses, or restrictions that expire after a certain number of years if Iran abides by the agreement. The Obama administration permitted Iran to continue operating key portions of its nuclear enrichment program as part of several concessions written into the 2015 deal. Critics said this legitimized Iran's nuclear program and put it on a path to acquire nuclear weapons down the road.
A new deal must also include "anytime, anywhere inspections," according to Habithonistim. Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran was not forced to grant international nuclear inspectors access to its secret military sites, which have been known to house key portions of the regime's atomic weapons program. This enabled Iran to conceal its enrichment work and continue working on a bomb even after the nuclear deal was put in place, according to a cache of secret Iranian documents seized by the Israelis in 2018.
"Considering the regime's record of repeatedly breaking its nuclear promises … any new agreement must include comprehensive anytime-anywhere inspections, including of military facilities," the Israeli security officials write.
They additionally demand that restrictions on Iran's ballistic missile program be included in any new agreement and that sanctions on Iran's global terrorism enterprise remain in place. As part of the 2015 accord, restrictions on Iran's ballistic missile program were lifted. This enabled Iran to build the delivery systems needed to carry a nuclear payload. Many of the sanctions on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Quds Force, nuclear industry, and regional terror proxies also were lifted under the deal. The Israeli former officials say any similar concessions by the Biden administration are unacceptable.