“This is an Extreme Situation”
The Israeli Consul General in Los Angeles, David Siegel, is working furiously to educate members of Congress on the nature and implication of the Iran nuclear deal. Following the July 14 agreement, Consul General Siegel spoke with The Jewish Home.
Consul General David Siegel (DS): “There are very significant weaknesses in this deal. Iran was harmed significantly by the 2012 sanctions which successfully disconnected Iran with the global banking system. The Iranians were forced to return to negotiations and this should have been productive. Instead it was a slippery slope of negotiations that lasted three years. During that time the goalpost was completely changed.”
Jewish Home LA (JHLA): Is this the first time Israel is openly, directly trying to influence Congress as a counter weight to the president? Will that reduce the global political power for America with Europe, China and Russia believing that American is too influenced by Israel?
DS: Israel will not inject itself in US politics. It does not need to and it has no reason to. On the other hand, Israel is focused on the ramifications of the agreement. Israel is in its right to defend itself and finding a solution to this turn of events is crucial. The solution that is most viable, requires American support.
JHLA: Reports note that Iran is fighting Al-Qaeda and Isis. Is this something good they are doing? Is there anything good that comes out of Iran?
DS: Iran has its own interests and they might be fighting Sunnis extremists and that might be a good thing but they certainly play both sides of the Sunni/Shiite conflict to get what they can. When you look at Iran you have to take into account its vast terror network which has been active for more than thirty years and across five continents. Go back 21 years and there was the Buenos Aires attack and many since then. There are today an unknown amount of sleeper cells that exist throughout the world and they are extremely dangerous.
There is absolutely nothing good coming out of Iran. Iran executes more citizens except for China, and more kids under the age of 18 than anyone in the world. Iran is an Islamist Extremist country, a very dangerous place and this is a painfully unstable time. In the midst of negotiations and in the aftermath of the agreement, Iranians are on the street, burning the US flag and screaming for death to Americans and to the American President.
Given the culture of cruelty that is Iran, an enhancement of their military weaponry would serve against global interests and likely lead to war. Iran is a country of religious fanatics with a moral compass indistinguishable from ISIS, even after the election of a more moderate presidential candidate in 2013, Hassan Rouhani. The country suffers from extraordinary human rights violations of those who seek political, religious, media, sexual, gender or artistic freedom.
JHLA: The global agreement allows the world’s nations to use nuclear power for the maintenance of domestic infrastructure and it was this logic that led the politicians to persist with the accord. Is Israel opposed to any deal with the current regime of Iran? Has Israel always believed a deal with Iran is impossible?
DS: Nuclear dismantlement was the goal of the original talks and Israel wholly supported an agreement on this basis. Iran would disengage in nuclear enrichment and sanctions would be lifted. It’s incredible to see how differently the negotiations developed. At the final instance we have a situation where Iran is allowed to maintain its nuclear program. They can continue with a vast array of research and development work in the nuclear industry and for the next ten years there will be no limitation on the ways they are legitimately allowed to improve their nuclear industry.”
JHLA: How will the Agreement be secured?
DS: UN intelligence groups and inspectors will notify Iran of a security trip and after several weeks have passed, they will be allowed into the country. Supposedly and hopefully this will protect the world from Iranian nuclear wrongdoing. If deviant behavior is discovered, new sanctions and military action remain a possible consequence.
Perhaps we have forgotten the success of Iran in hiding vast underground nuclear facilities? We will never know the exact number of nuclear facilities hidden in deep underground tunnels but it is certain that former President Ahmadinejad was highly knowledgeable and competent in tunnel building. Latest estimates are that 19 tunnel systems exist with many different entrances and exits. A huge network connects many of them through the mountainous region. The facility at Qom, which Iran successfully hid from international inspectors for many years, is buried deep inside a mountain. It was never suspected, despite the intelligence work of the world’s highly competent intelligence teams Mossad, the CIA and MI5.
JHLA: Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, calls the Agreement, a “stunning historical mistake.” Will Iran honor the terms of the agreement?
DS: The global agreement changed goals somewhere along the way. Now, Iran does not need to breach the terms of the agreement because they are granted such freedom within it that they can continue with their nuclear program unhindered. Their confidence has immediately risen to dangerous heights on the mega publicity of their inevitable nuclear power. This Agreement should not have happened.
JHLA: The Agreement allows Iran to build and develop Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, (ICBM’s which are designed to carry nuclear and possibly chemical warheads to distances in excess of 3,400 miles. The US Institute of Peace confirms that already, “Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East. (Israel has more capable ballistic missiles, but fewer in number and type.)” How come this was agreed?
DS: Previously, Iran could not create the key ingredients to ICBM’s but now they will have the freedom to develop these fearful weapons of destruction. In fact, major portions of their current nuclear program are allowed to remain and can be strengthened. There are several ways to create nuclear warheads and Iran is allowed to enrich plutonium but their main interest is to enrich uranium by using spinning centrifuges.
15,000 centrifuges are currently spinning and Iran has the capacity to generate 19,000; a far greater number than the 500 which were approved in the discussions of 2012. For the next years, Iran has agreed that everything will be shut off but it can just as easily be put back into action.
JHLA: As a result of this agreement, Saudi Arabia, Iran’s arch enemy, alongside Egypt and Jordan, has announced that it will increase its nuclear strength. How will this pan out?
DS: By all reports, the region will build more nuclear weapons which is another terrifying element to the deal. It will be too easy for terrorists to get their hands on some of these.
JHLA: As Egypt and Jordan and Saudi Arabia work together, they are focused on achieving goals that are shared by Israel. Will there be a change to their relationship?
DS: The conflict between these countries may evolve in unexpected ways. This is a new spin on the didactic relationships of the Middle East. Israel is becoming less the pariah and we are hearing more of her rational and competent voice.
JHLA: What’s next?
DS: The United Nations Security Council already adopted the Vienna Agreement of July 14 and nuclear-related sanctions on Iran will be removed over the next months. Iran will be approximately $150 billion richer for agreeing to new monitoring system that supposedly guarantees it, “will under no circumstances ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.” And what will this $150 billion dollar budget be used for? Iran will be free to build up its weapons of destruction, some it will doubtless purchase for Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the region and beyond.
JHLA: How should the world respond?
DS: The obvious response is to increase investment in our armed forces, in our nuclear programs and in weaponry so that Iran will not be able to overwhelm the nations it seeks to destroy. But this is the opposite of Obama’s intent. By insisting the deal is safe, predictable and realistic, there can be no justifiable use of funds for protecting citizens from an Iran which is unsafe, unpredictable and destructive.
The only way forward is to renegotiate the deal. Ultimately Congress has an important voice in the matter. China, Russia and Europe initially came to the negotiating table because of the US demand for financial sanctions. They will have to come again. Congress has an enormous and meaningful voice. If Congress votes to veto the deal there will be complicated constitutional issues that will likely result in longstanding litigation on the matter.
JHLA: Given that a nuclear Iran will affect the safety of Americans, who are you speaking to?
DS: There are 72 politicians who live in the South Western states of America. This includes Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, who lives in San Francisco and Harry Reid, the Senior Congressman who lives in Nevada. We are supporting the many voices of local and national leadership including rabbinical groups and orthodox leadership. Given that the US Army has a high percentage of Hispanic soldiers, I speak with diverse groups including Latino American leaders.
JHLA: What can we do to make a difference?
DS: It is our job as responsible citizens and as caring parents to speak to our Rabbi’s, our Jewish organizations and to share with our business networks so that the truth is heard. Speaking out is crucial.
This is a defining moment in our history. This is a regime who calls for the destruction of America, even on the day they signed the agreement. They are the source of the 5,000 missiles that fell on Jerusalem last summer. This is why it is important to come together and make a difference. Community power is strong and it resonates with our congressmen who are waiting to hear from the people they represent. We hope that with G-d’s help, we’ll get through this but we are not confident. This is an extreme situation.”
Currently Congress is considering the 159 pages of this agreement and there is grave concern from all sides. The head of the Muslim Guard is also concerned and things are happening across the country. Florida, Chicago and New York have already made meaningful statements against the Agreement.
JHLA: Will Israel ultimately turn to military action?
DS: We do not comment on such matters.