Israel And The Iran Deal NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks to the former chief of Israeli military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, about how changes in U.S. foreign policy are affecting Israel.

Israel And The Iran Deal

Israel And The Iran Deal

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NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks to the former chief of Israeli military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, about how changes in U.S. foreign policy are affecting Israel.


Israel is at the center of two major American foreign policy shifts. Last week, the U.S. pulled out of the Iran deal - something Israel has long lobbied for. And in another controversial move, tomorrow, the U.S. opens its embassy in Jerusalem. With us to analyze these major developments is former chief of Israeli military intelligence General Amos Yadlin. He is now Israel's director of the Institute for National Security Studies. And he joins us from Tel Aviv.

Thank you so much for being with us.

AMOS YADLIN: Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Good morning. President - excuse me - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spent years warning of the dangers of the Iran deal. And he personally lobbied President Trump to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement. Do you think the U.S. move to withdraw from the deal will ultimately be in Israel's interest?

YADLIN: It depends. The deal is not the issue. The issue is how will we stop the Iranian nuclear ambitions, how we stop the Iranian subversion and the attempt to have hegemony in the Middle East. And you haven't mentioned the last week Israeli-Iranian confrontation over Syria, how we change the regime behavior and the regime determination to destroy Israel and how we do all of these very important objectives without going to war. So it's too early to judge. It depends on the Iranian reaction to President Trump move and depends on how Israel and the U.S. will react to the Iranian reaction.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Are you - you have spent some time here in Washington, talking to officials. And you wrote after those meetings that hope is no alternative for a plan of action, which seems to suggest that you are unclear what the American objectives is. What should happen now?

YADLIN: I think the American objective - especially after the president substitute his close team, the secretary of state and the national security adviser - the president wants to change the behavior of the regime or even to change the regime. And the sanctions should serve as a tool, as a leverage whether to bring the Iranians to the negotiation table to a better deal. Or, if the sanctions will be very effective, as I say, it may be a regime change. This is something that previous administration didn't look into. It wasn't the Obama administration policy. So what...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You're suggesting the Trump administration would like regime change, or they want Iran to be - return to the negotiating table and sign a new agreement.

YADLIN: ...I think, in a way, it's a win-win. If the sanctions will bring the Iranians to negotiation with a weaker position, and they can make the deal better, this is one win. Another win - if the regime will collapse due to the sanctions. So what we have to look into first - let's say - six months after the withdrawal - are the American administration able to impose a very painful sanctions on Iran? Or the fact that they went out of the international consensus. Europe and Russia and China are not helping them to have painful sanctions. And then the Iranians can feel that it doesn't matter that America withdraw from the deal.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So it's uncertain what the reaction will be, and we need to look is what you're suggesting. We don't have a lot of time left. And I want to ask you about the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem. What do you see as the repercussions?

YADLIN: I supported this move from the very beginning. There were two warnings against the move. One, that there will be a riot and another intifada, and all the American embassies will be burned in the Arab world. Never happened. The gun was empty. Second, says that the peace process will be killed. Unfortunately, the peace process was already dead. And maybe this move will wake it up.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Former chief of Israeli military intelligence Amos Yadlin joining us from Tel Aviv. Thank you so much.

YADLIN: Good morning.

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