In the year that has passed since the nuclear deal was reached, Iran has continued developing its nuclear program and has maintained its aggressive behavior toward its neighbors. Iran admitted in April that it had exceeded the deal’s cap on “heavy water,” which can be used to weaponize plutonium; in response, the U.S. government paid $8.6 million to purchase the 32 excessive tons, which it confirmed earlier this week. Man-made uranium particles were discovered at Iran’s secretive Parchin military site, which the Obama administration said were likely connected to Iran’s past covert nuclear weapons program. A German intelligence report released last week stated that Iran has been making attempts to illegally procure nuclear and missile technology, which would be in violation of the nuclear agreement.
Iran’s belligerent statements and actions have gone uninterrupted. Iran has tested at least five ballistic missiles since the nuclear agreement was reached last July. Two of the missiles were stamped with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” written in Hebrew. Iran has launched cyber-attacks against the U.S., exported weapons to Syria and Yemen (which American, French, and Australian vessels have intercepted), fired rockets near a U.S. ship in the Persian Gulf, and took 10 U.S. sailors captive. It has maintained its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, assisting him in unleashing barrel bombs against civilians and systematically starving them. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified in February that “Iran, the foremost state sponsor of terrorism -- continues to exert its influence in regional crises in the Middle East through the International Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), its terrorist partner Lebanese Hezbollah, and proxy groups.” Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of United States Central Command, testified the following month that Iran has become “more aggressive in the days since the agreement.”
A senior military aide to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last month that the United States will “witness fragmentation and disintegration within 25 years.” Khamenei himself similarly addressed Israel last September, “[Y]ou will not see next 25 years; God willing, there will be nothing as Zionist regime by next 25 years. Secondly, until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists.” A senior commander of the IRGC-QF said last month that “If the Supreme Leader’s orders [are] to be executed, with the abilities and the equipment at our disposal, we will raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes.”
Israel’s diplomatic efforts have lead to “a revolution in our relations with important Arab states,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in a college commencement speech Wednesday.
Speaking to the National Security College in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu told students that Arab states have begun to realize that their real enemy isn’t Israel, but rather the growing radicalism preached by ISIS and other terrorist organizations. He also said that Arab world’s growing acceptance of Israel could help lead to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
We have always said that the moment we solve or make progress or have a breakthrough in peaceful relations with the Palestinians, we’ll be able to achieve peaceful relations with the entire Arab world. There’s no doubt this is always true — but more and more, I think this process could also run in the opposite direction: The normalization of advancing relations with the Arab world could help to advance peace — a more sober, stable and better-backed peace — between us and the Palestinians.Netanyahu specifically praised his country’s relationship with Egypt and Jordan. Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry met with Netanyahu on Sunday in Jerusalem—the first visit by a high-level Egyptian official in nine years—to promote a regional peace conference in Cairo. Ties between Israel and Egypt have greatly improved in the past few years. IDF deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan said at a news conference in April that the two countries have an “unprecedented level of cooperation” concerning the sharing of intelligence on terrorist groups like Hamas and ISIS’s Sinai affiliate. Israel has allowed the Egyptian army to technically break the 1979 peace treaty by operating in the eastern and northern parts of Sinai against ISIS.
Benjamin Netanyahu has chalked up a number of diplomatic achievements over the past month. Israel reached a reconciliation agreement with Turkey at the end of June, ending the two countries’ six-year impasse. Netanyahu also embarked on a diplomatic tour of four African countries, whose leaders hailed the “the opening of a new era in relations between Israel and the countries of Africa” and heaped praise upon Israel as a model for proper economic, agricultural, and security practices. Netanyahu also reportedly held a secret meeting with the president of Somalia, the first-ever high-level contact between the two countries. (via TheTower.org)