America’s departure from Iran Nuclear Deal may mean trouble for Israel and its Middle Eastern neighbors

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By Rebecca Piassek
For Mitzpeh
@rebeccapiassek

(Photo: Flickr/U.S. Department of State)

Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.

President Donald Trump announced his decision last week to pull the United States out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. The 2015 agreement between Iran and several world powers limited Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons in exchange for the loosening of economic sanctions.

The deal, reached under Barack Obama’s presidency, has been a controversial one since its early negotiations in 2013. The final framework – which had been approved by the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, Germany, the European Union, and Iran – states that Iran must limit its uranium enrichment capacity and enrichment levels while also allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor facilities.

Trump has been a strong critic of the deal since his presidential campaign, when he referred to the United States’ agreement to the deal as “the highest level of incompetence.” The administration is now expected to reimpose all economic sanctions on Iran that had been lifted as part of the deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also been an adamant opponent of the Iran Nuclear Deal, resting much of his political career on blocking Iran’s nuclear access. Netanyahu claims that the deal is fundamentally flawed, being so weak that Iran can continue its nuclear development without even breaking the deal.

“The last thing you can say about it is that it blocks all of Iran’s paths to the bomb. In fact, it does the very opposite,” Netanyahu said of the deal. “If you do nothing to this deal, if you keep it as is, you will end up with Iran with a nuclear arsenal in a very short time.”

The potential for Iran to have access to a nuclear arsenal poses a massive threat to Israel’s existence, as tensions between Israel and Iran are nothing new; the two countries have been carrying out a proxy war in Syria for years. However, tensions have been rising as Israel has allegedly carried out airstrikes against Iranian bases in Syria. Iran had never directly retaliated against Israel’s strikes until Trump’s announcement, when Iranian forces reportedly launched about 20 missiles at Israel early Thursday morning.

“Our nation honors its commitments, but it plainly tells the whole world, Europe, America, West and East: We will not negotiate our weapons and defense of our country with anybody,” said Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani. “What decision the Iranian nation has made for self-defense is nobody’s business.”

Israel has since put itself on “high alert,” instructing some cities to prepare bomb shelters for its civilians. And for good reason – as Trump has increasingly aligned the United States and Israel as close allies on the world stage, Trump’s decision makes Israel an even bigger Iranian target.

It is unclear what will happen to the Iran Nuclear Deal without the United States’ support, but the possibility of the entire agreement unraveling is becoming a growing reality. If that happens, “You get a nuclear race in the Middle East,” James Dorsey, a Middle East specialist at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said to The Atlantic.

Both Netanyahu and Rouhani have made their aggressions clear: neither nation is planning to concede. Combined with Trump’s apparent aggression, this could lead to chaos. A nuclear arms race in the Middle East – an already fractured and unstable region – would be a nightmare for the entire world.

With no international watch over Iran’s use of nuclear chemicals, Israel is left in an incredibly vulnerable state. If tensions between Israel and Iran continue to accelerate at a rapid pace, war between the nations may prove unavoidable. Not only is this cause to be concerned for Israel’s future, but it is cause to be concerned for the world’s security.  

Rebecca is a freshman journalism and government & politics major. She can be contacted at rebeccapiassek@aol.com.

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