Thursday, Sept.26, will go down in Israel’s history as the day it lost its freedom to use force either against the Iranian nuclear threat hanging over its head or Syria’s chemical capacity – at least, so long as Barack Obama is president of the United States. During that time, the Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah axis, backed by active weapons of mass destruction, is safe to grow and do its worst.
Ovations for the disarming strains of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani’s serenade to the West and plaudits for the pragmatism of its Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif flowed out of every window of UN Center in New York this week.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who took part in the highest-level face to face encounter with an Iranian counterpart in more than 30 years, did say that sanctions would not be removed until Tehran produced a transparent and systematic plan for dismantling its nuclear program.
But then, in an interview to CBS TV, he backpedaled. Permission for international inspectors to visit the Fordo underground enrichment facility would suffice for the easing of sanctions starting in three months’ time.
By these words, the US pushed back Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s first demand to shutter Fordo and its equipment for enriching uranium to near-weapons grade, which he reiterated at this week’s Israeli cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
To Tehran, Kerry therefore held out the promise of a short deadline for starting to wind sanctions down – this coming December.