Nuclear Talks – Israel Makes Funny Demands

6 December 2021 — Moon of Alabama

This, from Israel, is somewhat weird:

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Mossad chief David Barnea will push during their meetings this week in Washington with senior Biden administration officials for the United States to carry out a military strike on Iranian targets, Israel’s three main TV news broadcasts reported Sunday night.

Along with calling for tougher sanctions, the Israelis will reportedly ask the US to take military action against Iran.

Channel 12 news said the target of a US potential attack would be not a nuclear facility in Iran, but rather a site like an Iranian base in Yemen. The aim of such a strike would be to convince the Iranians to soften their positions at the negotiating table.

For starters: Iran does not have a base in Yemen.

Any U.S. strike on an Iranian target would of course not convince Iran to soften its position. It would in fact harden it. A strike would also necessitate a violent response from Iran. The foremost targets would likely be U.S. troops in Iraq.

Last weeks talks in Vienna about a U.S. return to the nuclear deal with Iran were disappointing for the ‘western’ participants. The new Iranian negotiation team is not as weak as the previous one. It will not compromise Iranian sovereignty and has made serious demands. But that does not mean that the talks have failed:

Russia’s chief negotiator in the Vienna talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that “disappointment” in the talks “seems to be premature.”

“In multilateral diplomacy there is the rule: nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. So changes are possible as a matter of principle.”

The “technical break” in the talks until next week, Ulyanov said, was “an opportunity for each participant, including Iran and the U.S., to consult with the capitals and to think how to proceed further, taking into account the positions of other counterparts.”

It is also quite incomprehensive that the Israeli government ‘leaks’ that it will demand U.S. strikes. It usually would do such lobbying silently.

Any strike would most likely end further negotiations about the nuclear deal. But during the last months dozens of high ranking former Israeli officials have spoken out in favor of the nuclear deal:

Bucking the official line, some Israeli security officials, many of whom were heading into retirement, admitted that the policy was a failure.

“Iran is far from falling to its knees; it has not folded,” the outgoing head of the Israeli military intelligence’s research division told the Yedioth Ahronoth daily in October 2020. “It has not yet been proven that the exit from the nuclear agreement served Israel.”

This past March the outgoing deputy head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service told the same newspaper in no uncertain terms that the situation in 2021 was worse than in 2015 and that former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s sprawling “12 demands” of Iran — including a halt to its nuclear program, missile development and support for regional proxies — was pie in the sky, “like seeking to transform the Iranians into Meretz,” an allusion to a left-wing Israeli political party.

Another former Israeli military intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi Farkash, recently admitted to the Jerusalem Post that a new nuclear deal with Iran “will likely be worse” than the 2015 original, and yet “even such an inferior deal is better than no deal.”

During one week alone in late November, at two separate conferences, multiple former Israeli security officials who served under Netanyahu slammed the former prime minister’s policy on Iran.

All those former official were calling the old Israeli tactic of pressing the U.S. into a war on Iran instead of following the nuclear deal a major failure. I find it therefore implausible that the current Israeli government wants to follow the same failed path.

Today’s widely spread call by the Israeli government for an attack on Iran is thus most likely for domestic consumption. Gantz and Barnea know quite well that such al illogical appeal will find no echo within the Biden administration.

To focus on China Biden wants to leave the Middle East as much as possible. He is not interested in starting another war there. Certainly not one that would seriously hurt all U.S. assets in the region, including Israel.

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