UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discusses Iran's nuclear capabilities with other diplomats in Geneva on Nov. 22. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of State

Cold diplomacy

Israel’s false logic on the Iran nuclear deal

By Dennis Gruending

The big powers, led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, recently reached a deal with Iran to temporarily freeze a nuclear program that could have produced a weapon for that country. In return, the U.S. and five other nations have agreed to ease up on economic sanctions that have long hurt Iranian citizens and their economy. The deal just negotiated is intended to buy time to pursue a more comprehensive agreement that would halt — or even roll back — Iran’s nuclear program altogether.

Of course, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately denounced the deal as an “historic mistake,” saying that Israel will never allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon. John Baird, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, is only slightly less provocative in his insistence that Iran can’t be trusted. Baird’s over-heated remarks are in marked contrast to those of U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western leaders who prefer diplomacy to belligerence.  

Here, we have two ironies although they are seldom mentioned in the news and even less often in speeches made by political leaders.

One is that Israel has possessed nuclear weapons for years but refuses to admit it. It’s estimated that Israel has between 200 and 300 nuclear warheads loaded on short- and medium-range missiles, putting them on a par with Britain and France. Conversely, Iran has no nuclear weapons and says that its program is being developed for peaceful purposes only. Still, many countries do not believe that, and Iran has been the subject of punishing economic sanctions, including the freezing of international bank accounts containing revenue from oil sales.

So when might we expect similar pressure to be placed upon Israel to acknowledge its possession of nuclear weapons and agree to dismantle them?  

The second irony is Netanyahu’s insistence that economic sanctions against Iran should remain in place. As justification, he points to Iran’s domestic human rights abuses and its proxy support of Hezbollah and the Assad regime in Syria. Yet the Israeli government and its supporters bristle at any mention of economic sanctions against Israel for its decades-long oppression of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

As for foreign interventions, Israeli jets have made several attacks on Syria. It’s also widely believed that Israel was behind the assassinations of four scientists working within Iran’s nuclear program.

Israel dismisses any suggestion of equivalency between its actions at home and abroad and those of Iran. This stance may resonate in Israel and to a lesser extent in Western nations, but from the perspective of the Palestinians and Israel’s Middle Eastern neighbours, it is seen as a hollow and self-serving claim.      

In early October, Netanyahu delivered a bitter speech before the United Nations, denouncing negotiations with Iran as a ruse and a ploy, and describing Iran’s newly elected president Rasan Rouhani as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.“

But as commentators have pointed out to both Netanyahu and Baird, it is not so much a matter of trust as of verifiable assurances that Iran is not building a bomb.   

Author's photo
Dennis Gruending is an Ottawa-based author, blogger and a former Member of Parliament. His work will appear on the second and fourth Thursday of the month. His Pulpit and Politics blog can be found at www.dennisgruending.ca.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image


David Wilson%


by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image


ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image


July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots


June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.


June 2017


by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.


June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.


April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart


March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image