Israel is warning that it will not engage with the US on Iran if the Biden administration moves to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
“We will not be able to be part of such a process if the new administration returns to that deal,” Israeli Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan told Israel’s Army Radio on Tuesday.
Erdan said Iran should be under even harsher economic sanctions and that Tehran needs a “credible military threat” to be deterred from pursuing nuclear weapons. A return to the JCPOA would mean the US lifts sanctions.
“It would appear that only crippling sanctions — keeping the current sanctions and even adding new sanctions — combined with a credible military threat that Iran fears might bring Iran to real negotiations with western countries that might ultimately produce a deal truly capable of preventing it breaking ahead [to nuclear arms],” he said.
Erdan’s comments line up with the policy of the Trump administration, known as the “maximum pressure” campaign, which failed to bring Iran to the negotiating table. Other Israeli officials have threatened attacks on Iran’s nuclear program if the US decides to revive the JCPOA, which could be what Erdan is hinting at.
Pressure, sanctions, and covert attacks in Iran have only led to the Islamic Republic increasing its nuclear activity. While it is not pursuing a bomb, Iran recently started enriching some uranium enrichment at 20 percent and is ready to limit IAEA inspections if the US does not lift sanctions.
Iran hawks in the US and Israel cite these increases in Iran’s civilian nuclear program as reasons to maintain crippling sanctions on Iran. But Iranian officials have made it clear, if the US returns to compliance with the JCPOA by lifting sanctions, Iran will scale back its nuclear activity to the limits under the agreement.