Negotiations With Iran Begin
Today, nuclear negotiations begin between Iran and six global leaders, including the U.S. and key members of the E.U. on the heels of an important deal struck between the Islamic Regime and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Tuesday. Of course, all of this activity occurs against the backdrop of the NATO summit and in light of the fact that, as of just a few months ago, the international community was highly concerned that Israel and Iran were on the precipice of war.
The IAEA’s agreement with Iran will allow the agency to restart inspections into Iran’s potential nuclear weapons program. It is unclear whether we should place any faith in negotiations coming out of Tehran, whose leaders are notoriously untrustworthy negotiating partners. Possibly, the threat of a joint attack by the U.S. and Israel has truly scared them away from pursuing nuclear weapons. Or maybe the economic sanctions that the U.S. and Canada have imposed have taken a serious toll, which would be compounded by the looming E.U. sanctions scheduled to take effect in July.
The more cynical among us could infer that these negotiations are simply a way to create the illusion of progress, which as Jeffrey Goldberg notes, could “forestall an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities by convincing President Obama and other Western leaders that [the Iranian government] is serious about compromise.”
As negotiations begin today, we must not forget that nuclear talks with Iran are, as always, only marginally about Iran’s nuclear weapons capability. In reality, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s need to prove to his own people that he has a place on the international stage and distract Iranians from their failing economy and high unemployment will always be the elephant in the room. The stalemate between the U.S. and Iran, which is based on a far more complex history, certainly doesn’t help the tone of negotiations either.
Jewish laws on just warfare eschew weapons that would kill indiscriminately and create sustained and lasting damage to the environment. Such weapons in the hands of extremist regimes pose particular danger to the world and to those Iran has publicly denounced, including Israel. Iran’s aggressive posture toward Israel destabilizes the already volatile Middle East. As Reform Jews, we remain seriously concerned about the possibility of a nuclear Iran and the potential for violence between Israel and Iran as the latter appears to become closer to developing a nuclear weapon.