The Deputy Prime Minister for Diplomacy of Israel, Dr. Michael Oren, joined me on the show this morning:
HH: I’m now joined by Dr. Michael Oren. I’m playing, Dr. Oren, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s terrific presser yesterday wherein a bit of theater was deployed for the purposes of underscoring that the Iranians have been lying, lying, lying. What is the reaction around the world that you’ve heard since this revelation?
MO: Well, the first reaction, interesting, Hugh, always good to be with you, was you had European sources coming out and saying yeah, we know they lied. That’s why we signed the nuclear deal, so that we can have greater inspections. But now, a day later, the French government is coming out and saying the fact that they lied and lied so bold-facedly over the course of 30 years means we’ve got to have a little bit more controls in this deal. This deal is inadequate to meet the threat. So just on that score alone, the fact that this appearance by the Prime Minister, this revelation of this extraordinary achievement by our Mossad, by our intelligence services, is already moving the goal posts. And I think it’s going to be very influential as President Trump approaches that May 12th deadline.
HH: You know, I have to ask you, I know you won’t give us details about the Mossad operation that have not already been made public, but what do you expect is the reaction inside of Tehran? Their counterintelligence people now must be doing a rabbit trail. You know, Khamenei may be under investigation. Soleimani may be under investigation by the end of the day. What do you suppose is the reaction as they watch from inside Mullah central?
MO: I expect to see some trials and maybe some hangings in keeping with the Iranian regime’s traditions. Any type of confusion that we can sow there, defensive insecurity, is a multiplier effect from this operation. And of course, we can’t reveal any details of it, nor would I say that by exposing this information, by publishing the information, are we risking sources, because I must tell you, Hugh, there are many times where Israel has information and we don’t publish it in order to protect the sources. So this is, this is an extraordinary, remarkable achievement, and it will have a real time impact. What it’s showing is that the entire Iranian nuclear deal is based on a lie, a lie. The Iranians were supposed to have come clean about their nuclear military program. They did not. And…
HH: Now Dr. Oren, you know a lot of people are invested in this deal in America, not only in the former Team Obama people, but also in the American media that sold it, being manipulated by Ben Rhodes and others. And their reaction this morning is to focus on the fact that the White House has corrected a statement from saying Iran has a nuclear weapons program to Iran had a nuclear weapons program, wholly the wrong lesson of this. But the question does remain. Based on the fact that they lied about everything and you can now prove it, ought we to believe them that they are not now presently developing nuclear weapons as we speak?
MO: You know, of course you can. Of course, you can. And basically, the documents that were revealed shows that the nuclear military program were further underground and bifurcated, bifurcated between an overt, a covert, an overt civilian program and a covert military nuclear program. They said that in black and white there. But more to the point, Hugh, if the Iranians lie for 30 years about their military nuclear program, why then would you sign an agreement with them that would freeze their nuclear program or parts of their nuclear program for about 10 years? What, are you going to assume that at the end of 10 years they’re not going to go back to lying? The whole logic behind this agreement, frankly, escapes me. This morning, I was looking at a picture from 2015, a photograph of the signing ceremony of former Secretary of State, other world leaders, standing behind Foreign Secretary Jarif of the Iranians, and everyone’s smiling, glowing. But these are the faces of people who know they’re signing a nuclear agreement with a radical jihadist regime that has systematically lied about its nuclear weapons. And…
HH: So let me ask you about the projected impact, should President Trump repudiate the deal. There is the alarmists are saying this will be a huge step backwards. What would you actually say would be the consequences of America exiting the deal in terms of our allies and our efforts to work together to contain the Iranian regime?
MO: I think first of all, I know what’s not going to happen. There’s a sense that if the United States pulls out of the deal, Russians, Chinese will rush in to get all the contracts that American companies could have had, or that international businessmen will turn to Iran and invest further. That’s just the opposite of what’s going to happen. What happens is rational businessmen in the world will have to choose between doing business with a half trillion dollar Iranian economy or a $21 trillion dollar American economy. And of course, they’re going to choose the American economy. But there’s a sense that, or a threat that Iran will rush out and enrich uranium to weapons grade level, or even rush out and create a nuclear weapon. Iran could have done that many times before 2015, Hugh. It didn’t do it, because of one major factor. And I’m sitting in it, the state of Israel. And they know they can’t do that. So that’s what’s not going to happen. My sense is that if the United States achieves fundamental fixes in the agreement or withdraws from the agreement, a message will go out to the world. It will go out to North Korea. It will go out to our common adversaries around the world, to America and Israel’s foes around the world that America means business. And we’re not going to be a pushover, and you’ve seen the effect already, I think, in North Korea. People are internalizing that there is a, there’s a punch behind the words here. And that’s very important.
HH: Let me ask you about the three, I count now three, I don’t know if you can confirm or deny that, Israeli strikes on Syrian positions wherein Iranians were either developing or had already deployed missile technology in a way that could threaten Israel, at least one, I think it’s three, including one over the weekend. Are we on the brink of an all-out confrontation between Iran and Israel in Syria?
MO: Well, I can’t comment on any of those strikes, Hugh, but, and all I can say about the possibility of war between Iran and Israel around Syria, I hope not. But the fact of the matter is we have drawn red lines. We’ve drawn very bright red lines. Anybody shoots at us from Syria, we’re going to shoot back. Iran sent an armed drone over our border several months ago to kill Israelis. We’re going to fight back. If Iran tries to supply advanced missiles to Hezbollah, we’re going to stop them. If Iran tries to build missile factories, even under populated areas in Syria in order to upgrade the 130,000 rockets in Hezbollah’s arsenal, we’re going to stop them. If Iran tries to build a base, an airfield, a port in Syria, we’re going to stop it. And I hope that that message will be internalized on the Iranian side.
HH: Let me ask you one last question, Dr. Oren, because you are no stranger to American academia, having taught at Princeton for many years. There’s a headline today I never thought I would read. Two Jewish Fraternity Brothers At Towson University, that’s in Maryland, assaulted an anti-Semitic hate crime. No arrests have yet been made, though suspects have been taken into custody. They beat up the kids after shouting F the Jews. Are you shocked that this would occur in, I mean, this is things we see in Paris all the time, things that we see in Europe all the time. But in America?
MO: Oh, no, anti-Semitism is a rising threat in the United States. But people very much focus on anti-Semitism on the right. I think it’s very important to keep your eye on anti-Semitism on the left, because that is the greater anti-Semitism on American campuses. And I follow it very closely with growing concern, and I think that there has to be much more open discussions about it and awareness.
HH: Deputy Prime Minister Michael Oren, always a pleasure, Minister Oren. Thank you for joining us today from Israel. Look forward to our next getting together.
End of interview.