Gershon Baskin

Encountering drama and lies


Gershon Baskin. Photo: Otmar Steinbicker

Iran lied. Wow, that’s news. Is there any serious person in the world who thought Iran’s nuclear program was only for peaceful purposes? Was there anyone who was particularly surprised over the years as unidentified foreign agents picked off one Iranian nuclear scientist after another while Iran remained unsurprisingly silent about it? Was anyone caught off guard when it emerged that a secret underground nuclear facility was being built? Did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu miss the reporting when a plutonium heavy water reactor was discovered in Iran? Did the Mossad not know Iran was enriching uranium to 20%, which is far beyond what is needed for energy production?

Did I miss something? Where is Netanyahu’s dramatic news?

What Netanyahu didn’t tell us, after he sent the Israeli news media into panic, along with probably over half of the population, after he canceled his speech to open the Knesset’s summer session: he didn’t say anything about the reality on the ground today. Like his friends in the White House who issued a statement in error stating that Iran has a military nuclear program, only later correcting it to Iran had a military nuclear program.

Netanyahu did not mention one word about the status of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the deal that the international community signed with Iran. It was not a US-Iran deal. It was negotiated and signed by the five permanent members of the United Nations, plus Germany, backed by the European Union and the UN. It created the strictest, most detailed and most comprehensive monitoring and verification regime in the history of arms control agreements. It is not a perfect agreement. It does not cover Iran’s ballistic missile program. It is time-limited, but even after it ends Iran remains a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) with all of the limitations and inspection regimes that go along with that. By the way, Israel is not a signatory of the NPT.

Most of those who saw Netanyahu’s warehouse of documents show have never read a report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The following are some quotes from its last report on Iran, from February 22, 2018. Netanyahu did not challenge the validity of this report. If he had evidence to show that this report was false, then that would be big news. I am sure that Israel is doing everything possible to prove these reports are wrong, but as of yet even IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot has stated that Iran is honoring its commitments under the JCPOA.

The IAEA report states: “Iran has not pursued the construction of the Arak heavy water research reactor (IR-40 Reactor) based on its original design. Iran has not produced or tested natural uranium pellets, fuel pins or fuel assemblies specifically designed for the support of the IR-40 Reactor as originally designed, and all existing natural uranium pellets and fuel assemblies have remained in storage under continuous Agency monitoring. Iran has continued to inform the Agency about the inventory of heavy water in Iran and the production of heavy water at the Heavy Water Production Plant and allowed the Agency to monitor the quantities of Iran’s heavy water stocks and the amount of heavy water produced at the HWPP. On 11 February 2018, the Agency verified that the plant was in operation and that Iran’s stock of heavy water was 117.9 metric tonnes. Throughout the reporting period, Iran had no more than 130 metric tonnes of heavy water.

“Iran has not carried out activities related to reprocessing at the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) and the Molybdenum, Iodine and Xenon Radioisotope Production (MIX) Facility or at any of the other facilities it has declared to the Agency. At the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz, there have been no more than 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges installed in 30 cascades, which remain in the configurations in the operating units at the time the JCPOA was agreed (para. 27). Iran has withdrawn 20 IR-1 centrifuges from those held in storage for the replacement of damaged or failed IR-1 centrifuges installed at FEP. Iran has continued the enrichment of UF6 at FEP. Iran has not enriched uranium above 3.67% U-235. Throughout the reporting period, Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile has not exceeded 300 kg. of UF6 enriched up to 3.67% U-235 (or the equivalent in different chemical forms).”

The report goes on in great detail.

What Netanyahu also did not say is that the only remaining existential threat today to the State of Israel is the continuation of the occupation and the control over the Palestinian people and the 50-year (out of 70) binational one-state reality which exists between the River and the Sea. At 70, Israel in reality is neither the nation state of the Jewish people nor a democratic state. That is Israel’s primary existential threat. The real dramatic news, which is also no news at all, is that Netanyahu lies.

The Clinton White House referred to Netanyahu as “the liar.” Netanyahu constantly speaks about wanting peace with the Palestinians but works diligently every day to prevent any possibility of ever recognizing the existence of a Palestinian state in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. Netanyahu documents in detail the failings of the Palestinian leadership in becoming a partner for peace and never mentions the daily actions of Israel that convince every Palestinian that Israel is not a partner for peace.

At 70, yes Israel has a lot to be proud of, but also a lot to be ashamed of. Without confronting the genuine existential threat Israel faces, the Israeli public should live in fear. If Israel truly wants increased security and stability in this region, it must understand that the real road to Riyadh and Dubai, Amman and Cairo, and even Rabat and Tunis, runs through a shared Jerusalem and a free state of Palestine living in peace with a much more secure Israel.

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