Iranian President Hasan Rouhani's speech at the U.N. General Assembly and the impending negotiations between the U.S. and Iran are allegedly supposed to satisfy us and be perceived as a victory for Israel's strategy during the past few years.
Israel made it clear the entire time that it welcomes a diplomatic solution, and if one is not possible that economic sanctions be imposed against Iran. The last option, only if no other option remains, is the military one. An American or international operation is preferable, while an Israeli strike is only the last resort.
It is clear, however, that until now there has been no diplomatic partner, and that only harsh sanctions could have produced such a partner. Without an extremely tangible Israeli military threat there would be no significant sanctions, and without sanctions there would be no chance for a diplomatic process.
And here we are, the Israeli strategy proved itself a success. Israel displayed consistent determination to prevent, even by military action and considering the inherently heavy price it would have to pay, Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Israel's persistence had made the Iranian issue a top global priority, led the West to impose tough sanctions on Iran, led to a considerable change in Iran's approach, brought a new president to power in Iran and made the realization of a diplomatic process possible.
Caution must be employed before reaching hasty conclusions and we must be extremely suspicious toward Iran's newly exhibited change. After all, there was not a real regime change in Iran. In the Iranian hierarchy, Rouhani is situated somewhere in the middle of the top ten. At the top is the council of ayatollahs led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The Iranian president's influence on policy is not great, and is non-existent in all matters pertaining to the molding of Iran's fundamental strategy -- becoming a regional nuclear superpower. Only a decision by Khamenei to completely alter his strategy can change things.
Has Khamenei made such a decision? Does the new tone and words of peace and restraint express a real change in Iran's ways? Or is this merely a policy of delay, aimed at moderating sanctions or lifting them altogether, buying time with exhausting and time-consuming negotiations while still pursuing the creation of a nuclear bomb? The most significant factor is the fact that Iran is in the final stretch, within touching distance from the bomb, and it is reasonable that it will tread carefully at this stage so as not to jeopardize what it has managed to attain to this point.
It is possible, for example, that Iran will agree to halt its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, knowing that the time between any future decision to make a bomb and actually having it is short. In all likelihood this is an Iranian scheme, based on the North Korean model. U.S. President Barack Obama's weakness, even if only to his image, and the strong support that Russian President Vladimir Putin is providing his allies -- increases the possibility that Iran is tricking the free world.
Iran will be tested by its actions, Obama told the U.N. General Assembly, not by its words. Obama will also be tested by his actions. Will he get dragged into never-ending negotiations that will serve Iran's strategy of delay, or will he be firm? The test is in the demands he will require Iran to meet and how they are enforced. Satisfaction with a freeze of the situation would be an Iranian victory that could possibly require Israel to strike, even if the U.S. objects. Obama's test is to make the ultimate demand of Iran, that within a designated time frame, while sanctions are still implemented and while keeping a tangible military option on the table -- the Islamic republic dismantles its nuclear capabilities.