Alan Dershowitz believes the nuclear agreement with Iran is a “done deal.” Now, says the famed Harvard law professor emeritus, “the question becomes, will this be an issue in the next presidential election? The next president has the authority to rescind the deal completely.”
The author of the newly published e-book The Case Against the Iran Deal (RosettaBooks) spoke to NJJN prior to a Sept. 3 community conference call sponsored by the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey.
NJJN: What will be the effect on Israel if, as you say, the deal goes through?
Dershowitz: The question is, what assurances will Israel be given to protect their security? Will they be given bunker-busting bombs? I think the answer to that is “not from this administration.” I don’t think the Obama administration will give them bunker-busting bombs.
NJJN: Daniel Kurtzer, the former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Israel, said on a recent conference call that “if Congress ultimately votes against the pact the situation for everybody’s security, especially for Israel, would become far more dangerous and complex in a very short period of time, because Iran would have gone from a frozen program into a more active program.” What is your reaction?
Dershowitz: That is certainly not what many, many other intelligence sources are saying…. If the situation is worse it is because the president has taken the military option off the table.
NJJN: But President Obama said in his Aug. 28 webcast with Jewish leaders that he has not taken the military option off the table.
Dershowitz: The president has said everything. He said the deal is eight years, he said the deal is 10 years, he said the deal is 15 years, he said the deal is forever. He said, “The military option is on the table but it is not a good option.” So it’s hard to know what the president is saying — but the Iranians do not believe there is a viable military option.
NJJN: After the deal goes through, what do you foresee happening?
Dershowitz: It gives Iran an enormous amount of ability to export terrorism, to build long-range rockets, and to ready themselves for the time when they will be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. I think this deal makes that more, not less, likely, and it makes it more difficult for Israel to employ a military option.
NJJN: There have been people in and outside Congress who say we should go back to the table and negotiate a better deal.
Dershowitz: That’s not possible.
NJJN: You were quoted in the Times of Israel saying, “If there had been no negotiations at all, I don’t think Iran would have developed nuclear weapons. They would’ve maybe come close, but they would have never crossed the red line.” Why do you believe that?
Dershowitz: They would have remained a threshold state but I don’t think they would have crossed Israel’s red lines or America’s red lines. But once the Syrian fiasco occurred [when President Obama, after warning Syria’s government that the use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” and prompt a military response, did not use force] they were able to out-negotiate us. We played checkers against the people who invented chess.
NJJN: What do you think will happen next?
Dershowitz: The battle against Iran developing nuclear weapons is not over. It is just beginning. We have to maintain the pressure. We have to make sure this is an issue in the presidential campaign. We have to secure commitments from people who are running for office. The deal is perhaps behind us, but whether Iran develops nuclear weapons is ahead of us, and we still have to maintain vigor and strength in doing everything we can to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. This is the beginning, not the end.
NJJN: What impact will this have on the presidential election?
Dershowitz: I think it will hurt the Democrats, and it will depend on what the candidates say. Once the deal is validated the question is “Where do we go from here?” and we’ll need to hear from the candidates what they will commit themselves to. I want to hear every candidate say, “Even when the deal ends, we are committed to not allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons.”
NJJN: Do you foresee a war in the future?
Dershowitz: I think ultimately the only way Iran will be stopped from developing nuclear weapons is militarily. Now that we’ve taken the sanctions off the table…a decision will have to be made by the United States, by Israel, by the Saudis, whether they are prepared to allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons or whether they will take military action….
The combination of the sanctions with the military option was working. Now sanctions are gone. The military option seems to be gone. And all we have to rely on is Iran complying with the deal, and that’s not something that makes me feel comfortable.