Israeli officials are furious over a clause tucked away in the Iran nuclear deal that suggests that the U.S. and other world powers may have an obligation to provide training courses to Iran to teach it how to respond to external attacks or sabotage on its nuclear facilities.
The provision can be found on page 142 of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in the section titled "Nuclear Security." The document says that world powers who negotiated the deal - the U.S., Russia, China, France, the U.K. and Germany - "and possibly other states, as appropriate, are prepared to cooperate with Iran on the implementation of nuclear security guidelines and best practices."
This cooperation will come "in the form of training courses and workshops to strengthen Iran's ability to prevent, protect and respond to nuclear security threats to nuclear facilities and systems as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems," the agreement says.
Critics have suggested that the provision would not only allow Western powers to help Iran protect its nuclear sites from an outside attack, but also possibly help the country stage a counter-attack, reports The Jewish Press.
"The US has to protect Iran as it pursues nuclear weapons because its program is allegedly civilian?" a top official in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said, according to Israel Hayom.
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes only, such as producing nuclear energy and medical isotopes, while Israel believes the country is using this excuse as a cover for a nuclear weapon program. A few sabotage attempts have been made, and Israel is widely believed to be responsible for at least one: the Stuxnet virus cyber-attack in 2010 which destroyed about a fifth of Iran's nuclear centrifuges by causing them to spin out of control.
Under the new agreement, Israel worries that if Iran decides to cheat and pursue a nuclear weapon, the complicated review methods could cause month-long delays in determining whether Iran violated the terms. If in the meantime Israel decided to attack Iran's nuclear sites, the terms of the agreement suggest the U.S. and other P5+1 countries would be obligated to join together with Iran to thwart the attack, reported The Jewish Press.
Israel's National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel is focusing on "illustrating the fundamental deficiencies in the deal, such as in the provisions detailing oversight over Iran's nuclear facilities, which require that [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors give Iran 24 days' notice. It's a joke."
"The fact that 12 years from now Iran could be days away from a nuclear weapon, all in exchange for relative calm, means the world powers have legitimized [Iran's] desire to become a nuclear threshold state," he said.