Defense Secretary Vows ‘Ironclad’ Commitment to Israel During Visit to Talk Iran Deal

Israeli DM demands nuclear deal protect Israel

A Sunday meeting between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz is looming large over nuclear talks with Iran, with the US trying to reassure Israel that they are committed to Israeli security, and Israeli officials expecting to have effective veto power over the negotiations.

Gantz says the nuclear deal necessarily has to protect Israel, and other officials report Israel is in close consultations with the US on the Vienna talks, saying they’ll ensure any deal keeps Israel’s military superiority in the region.

Coinciding with an apparent Israeli cyberattack on Iran this weekend (Israeli public radio reported Mossad caused a power outage at the Natan uranium enrichment facility), this looks to be a test of where Israel stands in US relations. The expectation that Israel would have near absolute say over how these nuclear talks play out might well have made sense 15-20 years ago …

Increased politicization of Israel, with an unusually cozy relationship between Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump typifies where this stands now. Israeli officials tried to preempt the Iran nuclear deal under Obama, and failed, and subsequently expressed frustration with Obama’s position on things like the legality of Israeli settlements.

President Biden has suggested being more conciliatory with the approach to fixing the Iran deal, giving lip service to finding a deal that makes everyone happy. As a practical matter, this seems to have been interpreted by Israeli officials as an opportunity to return to the situation where they have unparalleled say on regional policy.

If Biden really intended this, he probably wouldn’t have approached saving the Iran deal in the first place. It’s likely impossible that there is a deal that would satisfy both Israel and Iran, and more likely the administration will seek something they both can live with, however grudgingly.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.