US 'Hints' to Israeli Leaders it is Developing Military Option Against Iran
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JERUSALEM, Israel – The White House has signaled to senior Israeli leaders that the United States is preparing a military option against Iran amid ongoing negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear deal.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan gave Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz “positive hints” that military plans are being developed, Axios reported, citing an unnamed senior Israeli defense official. The two leaders met in Washington on Friday over Israeli concerns that a possible deal to restore the tattered agreement will not prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear regime.
Israel has urged the Biden administration to develop a credible military threat against Iran, while Jerusalem prepares its own military plans against the Islamic Republic. Israel believes the threat of military action is the only way to make Iran more flexible in the negotiations.
Negotiators in Vienna have spent the last 16 months trying to coax Tehran back into compliance with the nuclear deal, which placed limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions. Former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018, arguing that the deal was poorly negotiated and did not sufficiently address Iran’s activities in the Middle East. Since then, Iran has openly broken the terms and is closer than ever to a nuclear weapon.
The recent flurry of public statements from Israeli, American and Iranian leaders suggests a deal to return to the nuclear accord could be close. Tehran and Washington have exchanged written responses in recent weeks on the details of the agreement.
Israel has long opposed the deal and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid warned last week that Iran would use billions of dollars in sanctions relief to “undermine stability in the Middle East and spread terror around the globe.”
Supporters of the deal, such as President Joe Biden’s administration, believe the original accord was effective in restraining Iran’s nuclear capabilities and argue that Iran has become more dangerous in the absence of an agreement.
While Israel officially opposes the agreement, Israeli leaders have warned that Iran has become more dangerous in the current limbo.
Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, head of Israeli military intelligence, has told Security Cabinet ministers several times this year that a deal with Iran would be better than no deal because it would give Israel increased certainty about the limits imposed on Iran’s nuclear program, and give the Israeli military more time to prepare for a potential escalation.
The former head of Israeli military intelligence, retired Gen. Tamir Hayman, said on Twitter that while the emerging agreement is bad, it is necessary to restrain Iran’s nuclear program and buy time to develop an effective military deterrent.
Meanwhile, former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon suggests it is better to continue isolating Iran while simultaneously developing military plans.
“First is to isolate Iran. Second is to call for more sanctions and third is to build our military capability. So, if we will have to take care of this threat ourselves, we will have the means to do it,” Danon tells CBN News.
Lapid says the current draft of the agreement will not meet its primary goal: stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
"Israel is not against any agreement. We are against this agreement because it is a bad one. Because it cannot be accepted as it is written right now. In our eyes, it does not meet the standards set by President Biden himself – preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state,” he said.
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