Israel and Saudi Arabia may cooperate in an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities following the announcement of a six-month interim agreement between the P5+1 and Iran on Sunday in Geneva. Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, characterized the agreement as a major success. He said Iran will cooperate with the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran’s recently elected president, Hassan Rouhani, said the agreement is evidence the world now recognizes Iran has nuclear rights.
“While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal,” the Obama administration said in a statement. “For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.” Obama added a caveat. He said the United States will “ratchet up” sanctions if Iran fails to follow the agreement. Secretary of State John Kerry, who represented the United States at the conference in Geneva, said Iran has yet to demonstrate that it is not seeking to build a nuclear weapon.
The agreement stipulates that Iran will stop enriching uranium over 5% and dismantle its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium. A nuclear weapon requires uranium enriched over 90%. In addition to IAEA inspections, Iran has also agreed to stop construction on its heavy water reactor at Arak.
Officials in Israel reacted predictably after the deal was reached. “What was concluded in Geneva last night is not a historic agreement, it’s a historic mistake,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned. “It’s not made the world a safer place. Like the agreement with North Korea in 2005, this agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place.” The Saudi royals also expressed outrage.
Israel Working With Saudis On Attack Plan
Earlier this month, the Sunday Times reported that Saudi Arabia agreed to allow Israel use of its air space. The Saudis said they would provide drones, tanker planes and helicopters for an Israeli attack on Iran. The newspaper said Mossad was working closely with Saudi intelligence and they were making preparations in the event a deal was reached in Switzerland. “Once the Geneva agreement is signed, the military option will be back on the table. The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs,” a source said.
Netanyahu and Israeli officials attempted to persuade the United States to reject a compromise. The Israeli president said any agreement would directly threaten the existence of his country.
“It is highly unlikely that the Saudis and Israelis would want to attack Iran because at the end of the day both countries would be losers, they would be seen as aggressors and obviously the Iranians would retaliate,” Iranian political analyst Seyed Mohammad Marandi said after the Sunday Times published its report. “It would create an economic catastrophe for the world and only the Saudis and the Israelis would be to blame.”
Egyptian officials, according to WorldNetDaily reporter and blogger Aaron Klein, confirmed that Israeli personnel recently visited Saudi Arabia and inspected military bases. “The officials said Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and other Arab and Persian Gulf countries have been discussing the next steps toward possible strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites,” Klein writes today.
Klein also notes the United States told Israel and the Saudis it controls radar capabilities over Iran and that no strike should be launched without permission from the Obama administration.
Hezbollah May Respond If Attack Unfolds
In October, it was reported that Israel was considering attacking Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon to take out its missile capability. The Shia military organization has “more than 200,000 missiles capable of hitting any house in Israel,” according to Israeli Home Front Minister Gilad Erdan. Military experts, however, put the number closer to 45,000 missiles and rockets. IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Naveh claims Hezbollah has at around 60,000 rockets and missiles in its arsenal, or about ten times the number it had during Israel’s 34-day invasion of Lebanon in 2006.
Hezbollah Secretary-General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah met with Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian last week after the Iranian embassy was attacked in Beirut. Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi told Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV station “the Zionist entity” was responsible for the attack.
The Abdullah Azzam brigades, an al-Qaeda-linked group, claimed responsibility for the blast that killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 150 others.