Benjamin Netanyahu's PowerPoint presentation on Iran was terrifying -- and it could end up having major implications for North Korea talks

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a flair for the dramatic, but the information he presented about the Iran deal is scary in any light.
  • The Mossad stole over 100,000 Iranian documents.
  • What they reveal about the Iranian nuclear program is terrifying.

Benjamin Netanyahu is a man who understands the power of a story well told.

The Israeli prime minister has a penchant for using visual aids to bolster his rhetoric. He has done it at the UN. And he did it Monday while warning the world about the pitfalls of the Iran deal.

But after the initial effects of his PowerPoint slides and his enormous “Iran lied” signs subsided, the question on everyone’s mind seemed to be: What, if any, of the information he presented was new? How would that information play a role in the Trump administration’s plans on the Iran deal? And, in the longer term, how would it affect another tenuous, upcoming negotiation involving nuclear weapons the one with North Korea?

Pundits and politicians disagreed about the status of the information.

On one hand was Daniel Shapiro, who the US ambassador to Israel from 2011 until 2017. He told me that “the information in the documents Netanyahu revealed is not new.”

“It confirms what we have long known,” he said.

This seems to be the favoured explanation from former Obama administration officials and those who favour remaining in the Iran deal in its current form.

“It may be the first time some of it was presented to the public,” he said, and that “combined with Netanyahu’s skill in presenting it,” that could “have some affect on public opinion.” He said he expects that Trump will abandon the deal this month and that, while he believes the president has “already made that decision,” this new presentation “will be cited as evidence to justify it.”

On the other hand, Mark Dubowitz, the CEO of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, took a different view. He told me that “Iran lied about its nuclear weapons program,” and that it “retained a vast atomic archive with detailed instructions on how to restart its nuclear weapons program at a time of its choosing.”

This, he said, “is new, alarming, and inconsistent with its JCPOA pledge not to develop nuclear weapons and only to have a program for peaceful purposes.”

Dubowitz said that “it is now clear that a fix to the deal must include a US-European pledge to force the regime to do what it didn’t in 2015: provide full access to its nuclear scientist, sites, and documentation so that the IAEA can use this as a baseline to fully verify Iran’s commitment to the deal.”

In the aftermath of Netanyahu’s presentation, pundits wondered aloud how Trump’s decision regarding the JCPOA might affect the progress he’s been making with North Korea. The worry was that if Trump ultimately decides to pull out of the Iran deal, the message he would be sending to Kim is that the word of the US is worthless.

But the opposite is true. If this deal proves to be as disastrous as it seems, if it really doesn’t limit the Iranians in any meaningful way, and if they have, and continue to lie to the world, Trump’s decision to pull out of it would send a clear message to Kim: The US is not to be trifled with.

Trump would convey strength, not weakness. He would signal to North Korea that any future agreements or accords would be taken seriously, and that at the first sign of noncompliance, any and all carrots would be immediately morphed into sticks.

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