March 11, 2021 | The Jerusalem Post

Interview — Ex-Netanyahu adviser: We have to stop Iran’s race to the bomb

Lahav Harkov with former acting national security adviser Jacob Nagel
March 11, 2021 | The Jerusalem Post

Interview — Ex-Netanyahu adviser: We have to stop Iran’s race to the bomb

Lahav Harkov with former acting national security adviser Jacob Nagel

Any new agreement between world powers and Iran must stop Tehran from developing all the components of a nuclear bomb and address new information uncovered since the original Iran deal of 2015, former acting national security adviser Jacob Nagel, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said in this week’s Jerusalem Post Zoom cast.

Rather than returning to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the Biden administration aims to do, Nagel said, there should be “a very good agreement.”

“What is a very good agreement?… Everyone in the P5+1” – the world powers party to the JCPOA – “says they don’t want Iran to be nuclear, so we have to cut off [Iran’s] race to the bomb,” Nagel said.

Nagel explained that the components of a nuclear weapon are its fissile materials, weapons system and means of delivery.

“The old agreement didn’t address delivery means at all…. There is nothing there about the weapons systems – [Israel] pushed one [wimpy] page that [the US] never used. About the fissile systems, they gave [Iran] the de facto legitimacy for more than 5,000 centrifuges and to continue their research and development – it was more than the Iranians dreamed of,” Nagel said.

A new agreement must address all of those issues, he added.

In addition, Nagel pointed to the 2018 operation in which the Mossad smuggled Iran’s nuclear archive to Israel.

“Some say, no, it’s [information] from before 2003, forget about it,” Nagel said, “but the archive shows [Iran] didn’t desert the idea to have a nuclear weapon. It’s written in their handwriting that they want to design and test five warheads, each one 10 kilotons. That’s five Hiroshimas.”

Iran still has all of the knowledge contained in those archives, and now they’re producing uranium metal, which has no civilian use, Nagel explained.

The former acting national security adviser warned against “confidence-building measures” such as those the Obama administration used in 2015 – relaxing sanctions in exchange for Iran taking steps toward an agreement.

“It’s as if I found a burglar in my home with all my property and I tell him, you know what, leave half of it behind and I will let you go. No! First of all, give back all you took. ‘Less for less,’ or intermediate agreements are very bad,” Nagel said.

He also strongly opposed the US returning to the 2015 agreement as is – which would include lifting sanctions – and holding follow-up talks to make it stricter.

“The biggest mistake would be [for the US] to go to the original agreement, because that’s what they have, and then go to the Iranians to [negotiate] the next step,” Nagel said. “No way. After they go back to the old agreement, there is no incentive for the Iranians to go back to the table.”

If that happens, “there won’t be any new agreement until 2030, when this agreement expires, and Iran… will have all the means to build a bomb.”

Jacob Nagel is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a visiting professor at the Technion Aerospace faculty. He previously served as acting national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and as head of the National Security Council. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

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