Ex-Israeli generals, Mossad spymasters urge Biden's return to Iran deal

February 23, 2021 - 21:5

A group of former top officials from Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, the IDF and the Mossad sent a letter on Monday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing support for a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.

Led by former IDF deputy chief of staff Matan Vilnai, commanders for Israel’s security said in the letter that it “welcomes the American initiative to get Iran to again transparently follow the guidelines in the JCPOA as long as it includes an Iranian commitment to abide by UN Security Council Resolution 2231” regarding development of ballistic missiles.

In addition to Vilnai, the letter was signed by former Mossad director Tamir Pardo, former IDF OC Operations Directorate Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, former National Security Council head Uzi Arad and Eli Levite, the former principal deputy director-general for policy at the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission.

The former senior defense officials expressed support for President Joe Biden’s current position not to lift sanctions on Iran unless it returns to abide by the 2015 deal. The first goal needs to be to get Tehran back into compliance and then to work on a follow-up deal that would fill the holes in the JCPOA, they said.

Iran has been insisting that it is still a party to the nuclear deal and it is the U.S. that quit the agreement and naturally it is Washington that must return to its obligations under the agreement. Officials in Tehran have said it will reverse its remedial measures in reducing nuclear commitments if sanctions are fully lifted in practice and not in words.

“This will take into account new information that has been accumulated since the JCPOA, as well as additional problems that Iran presents,” the letter said.

It was not the first time that the group has come out against Netanyahu’s efforts to stop the JCPOA. Ahead of the signing of the 2015 deal, the group called on the prime minister to cancel his speech to the U.S. Congress.

At that time, former Mossad deputy director Amiram Levin said while it was difficult for him to speak out against Netanyahu, who served under him in the IDF, the prime minister’s navigation was off.

“Leaders speak privately, not out in the open,” he said. “The visit and the speech are exactly the opposite of that.”

“Rather than working hand in hand with the U.S. president, we are going there and sticking our thumb in his eye,” Levin said. “That not only hurts the president, but above all, it hurts the citizens of the U.S., who [while they] are fans of Israel, are first and foremost Americans.”

Iran remained fully loyal to the nuclear deal for a full year despite the fact that Donald Trump, who had struck a close relationship with Netanyahu, ditched the pact in May 2018 and imposed sanctions against Iran in line with his administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran.

However, in May 2019 Iran announced that its “strategic patience” is over and started to gradually remove bans on certain aspects of its nuclear activities. At the time Iran announced that if the remaining members of the JCPOA, especially the European trio (E3) protect Iran from the U.S. sanctions it will reverse its decision. But Iran saw no practical action.

Exasperated over inaction by the JCPO parties, the Iranian parliament also approved a legislation a few months ago obliging the government to speed up nuclear activities if sanctions are not lifted within a specific period of time. The legislation tasked the government to increase uranium enrichment to 20 percent, install advanced centrifuge machines and limit IAEA inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites.

Iran began enriching uranium to 20 percent on January 4. It also started limiting IAEA access to nuclear facilities on Tuesday (Feb. 23). According to parliamentary law, the inspections will take place only based on the Safeguards Agreement. 

Even now that Iran has suspended the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol it will continue to “implement fully and without limitation its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA as before,” the IAEA and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said in a joint statement on Sunday.

Netanyahu is fierce opponent of Iran’s nuclear deal. However, its regime has been refusing to join the NPT.  It is also the only country in West Asia that possesses nuclear arms and refused to agree on a nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ) in the region.

The tweet came after Western news organizations reported that Israel is expanding its Dimona nuclear plant, where Israel has made material for nuclear bombs.

“Israel is carrying out a major expansion of its Dimona nuclear facility in the Negev desert, where it has historically made the fissile material for its nuclear arsenal,” The Guardian reported, citing Satellite images that show significant expansion of the desert site over the past few years.

Following the revelation Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized several Western leaders and the UN nuclear watchdog over their silence on Israel’s nuclear activities.

Zarif mentioned U.S. President Joe Biden, French President Emanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“Israel is expanding Dimona, the region's only nuclear bomb factory. @POTUS @iaeaorg @BorisJohnson @EmmanuelMacron Angela Merkel. Gravely concerned? Concerned?  A little? Care to comment? I thought so,” the Iranian chief diplomat said in a tweet Saturday.



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