Iran remains unmoved as Israel resorts to military threats

First we take Tel Aviv...

July 5, 2021 - 21:17

TEHRAN - With the Vienna nuclear talks hitting a deadlock after the sixth round, Israel finds itself more isolated on Iran and is unable to influence the talks, something that prompted it to try out a new military stunt in order to get the talks moving in line with Israel’s interests.

During his recent trip to Washington, Chief of Staff of Israeli Armed Forces Aviv Kochavi reportedly conveyed clear messages to the U.S. administration regarding the possibility of the U.S. returning to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. These messages included threats of an Israeli military attack inside Iran. The Israeli general held behind-closed-doors meetings with several high-ranking American officials including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, CIA Director William Burns, and DIA Deputy Director Suzanne White.

In these meetings, Kochavi claimed that Israel had made a decision to dismantle the alleged Iranian military nuclear program a year before the U.S. 2020 presidential election and the start of the buzz over a return to the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). According to Israeli reports, Kochavi also told his American interlocutors that the Israeli army has devised at least three military plans in order to thwart the Iranian nuclear program, and that the previous Israeli government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, put aside funds for these plans, and that the current government, led by Naftali Bennett, pledged to add large sums in order to fill gaps related to readiness as soon as possible.

This saber-rattling came against a backdrop of a diplomatic war of words between Iran and the U.S. after the sixth round of the Vienna talks which resulted in little progress compared to previous rounds. The U.S. demanded a commitment from Iran to discuss other thorny, non-nuclear issues such as Iran’s missile program and its regional influence while rejecting Iranian demands regarding the lifting of all Trump-era sanctions and the provision of a guarantee that Washington would not withdraw from the deal again once it is revived. In fact, disagreements between the two are so deep that the mere resumption of the talks now hangs in the balance, with Russia is now insinuating that the talks may not be resumed any time soon.

This charged atmosphere has led Israel to remarkably increase diplomatic contacts with the U.S. in the hope that these communications would affect the U.S. stance toward the Vienna talks. But the Israelis themselves have acknowledged that they are unable to influence the U.S. Iran policy. 
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Monday that Tel Aviv can no longer influence the new deal that the Biden administration seeks, one that would be “longer and stronger” than the existing one that is the JCPOA. 

But the Israelis seem not to be giving up on their anti-JCPOA crusade. They appear to have reverted to the decades-long dream of getting the U.S. to do their own job with American blood and treasure: an American military strike against Iran. Haaretz reported that Israeli officials are trying to convince the U.S. into bringing up the military option against Iran if it continued its nuclear activities, hoping that making hostile announcements would create deterrence against Iran. 

But one diplomat predicted that the Biden administration was less likely to attack Iran if it violated the terms of the agreement, Haaretz said, adding, Americans do not currently want the potential for a military conflict in terms of their priorities.

In doing so, the Israelis signal their assessment that threats of military strikes work with Iran, something that belies the most recent bouts of escalation during the Trump administration. Over the course of the Trump presidency, the U.S. issued a whole range of stark threats against Iran from attacking cultural sites to starving the Iranian people but none worked with Tehran. In addition, the Israelis themselves launched what they call the “campaign between wars,” a military doctrine mostly aimed to confront Iran’s spheres of influence in the region while keeping the confrontation below the threshold of an all-out war, to eliminate its regional influence and undermine its nuclear program. But they failed to achieve their goal as Iran’s nuclear program continues to advance and the country’s sway continues to expand.


 

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