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The Fanaticism of Nuclear Deal Opponents

Trump speaks at Washington rally against the Iran deal back in September 2015. Credit: Olivier Douliery/Sipa USA/Newscom

Saudi lobbyist and Republican Jewish Coalition chairman Norm Coleman says several outrageous things in this New Yorker interview, but probably the craziest thing he says comes near the beginning in response to a question about what he means by a “strong U.S.-Israel relationship”:

You look at an individual matter, for instance, the Iran deal. The deal Obama did with Iran represented an existential threat to Israel’s existence [bold mine-DL]. That means we would be supporting senators, congressmen, Presidents who would oppose that deal, because doing it would have and did create an existential threat to Israel’s existence.

There are so many unfounded assumptions and lies misinforming this answer that it is worth unpacking them to understand just how fanatical and divorced from reality many “pro-Israel” hawks like Coleman are. Note that this is an agreement that had and still has the broadsupport of Israeli security professionals. Presumably if it somehow represented an “existential threat” to their country, they would not be in favor of it. But even that doesn’t cover how insane Coleman’s answer is.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) significantly restricted Iran’s nuclear program and subjected it to the most intrusive inspections regime in the world. Iran is unable to develop and build nuclear weapons as long as it remains in compliance with the agreement, and it is prohibited from doing so by its commitments under both the JCPOA and the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is already bizarre to perceive a successful nonproliferation agreement as any kind of threat, but to think that it threatens the existence of any state is simply unhinged. The deal is one of the great nonproliferation success stories, so it tells you everything you need to know about the priorities of opponents of the deal that they have been doing everything they can to wreck it.

It is telling that Coleman’s first answer about a strong relationship with Israel begins with an attack on the nuclear deal. Properly speaking, the two have nothing to do with each other. Israel isn’t even a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and it is estimated to have as many as 200 nuclear weapons, so the idea that it could be threatened by a nonproliferation agreement with some other country is ludicrous. The JCPOA doesn’t really have anything to do with the U.S. relationship with Israel, but that hasn’t stopped “pro-Israel” hawks from railing against it for years on end and working to destroy it.

An agreement that prevents Iran from building nuclear weapons cannot be a threat to anyone except the warmongers that seek to use the nuclear issue as a pretext for conflict.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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