Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Secretary of State Antony Blinken that no deal the US makes with Iran would prevent Israel from attacking the country over its nuclear program, according to Haaretz. American and Iranian officials are reportedly engaging in direct negotiations on US soil. If true, this would be a huge diplomatic breakthrough after a series of failed indirect talks in Vienna during the first two years of the Joe Biden administration.
The two sides may be nearing an interim deal which will allow Tehran to receive limited sanctions relief including partial oil export resumptions. Per the terms, the major oil producing nation will be permitted to export one million barrels per day as well as regain access to approximately $20 billion in frozen assets, sources familiar with the situation told Middle East Eye on Wednesday.
In turn, Iran would cease enriching some uranium hexafluoride to 60% purity, which Tehran began in response to Israeli sabotage attacks on its nuclear facilities. Additionally, the Islamic Republic would continue its cooperative relationship with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog.
However, Tel Aviv is strongly opposed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 Iran nuclear deal which former President Donald Trump illegally exited in 2018, and sources say the White House has refused to rejoin. During a phone call, the Israeli leader appeared to threaten Blinken “no agreement with Iran is binding to Israel, which will do everything it can to defend itself.”
Notably, Haaretz first covered the tentative deal between Washington and Tehran, reporting “some officials in the [Israeli] defense establishment say the agreement would be the best case scenario – and reaching such understandings is preferable to the continuation of unfettered Iranian progress toward nuclear weapons.” Notwithstanding the Israeli claims, the CIA and the Pentagon say there is no evidence that Iran – a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty for over 50 years – is seeking a nuclear bomb.
America’s top diplomat talked with Netanyahu about “the threat posed by Iran, and underscored the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security and our 75-year-old partnership,” according to a statement released by State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller.
The Haaretz report added Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and the hawkish Likudnik chairman of the Israeli National Security Council, Tzachi Hanegbi, recently visited Washington for meetings with senior administration officials. During these talks, “the Iranian issue” was discussed.
Netanyahu’s nuclear armed regime, for months, has been threatening war with Iran. The prime minister is facing a corruption trial and political turmoil as result of his planned judicial overhaul. Concurrently, he has conducted drone strikes in Iran as well as dropped myriad bombs on Syria, Gaza, and even Lebanon.
Israel has conducted multiple extensive military exercises, sometimes alongside American forces, practicing to attack Iran and its allies this year. This includes the current “Firm Hand” war drills which the commander of US Central Command Gen. Michael Kurilla joined last week.
A recent report in The Intercept revealed that – according to documents included in the Discord Leaks – even the CIA is unsure whether Israel is truly preparing to unilaterally launch a war against Iran. Such a conflict would spread violently across the region and quickly draw in the United States.
Unprecedentedly, the Biden administration has taken an extremely dangerous position by repeatedly appearing to green light any Israeli action against the Islamic Republic that Tel Aviv sees fit.
For example, last month National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan declared in a speech, “[Iran] can never be permitted to obtain a nuclear weapon.” Sullivan vowed “President Biden has repeatedly reaffirmed, he will take the actions that are necessary to stand by this statement, including by recognizing Israel’s freedom of action.”