An Israeli cabinet minister stepped up the threatening rhetoric against Iran, warning that a US return to the nuclear deal would mean war, and said that Israeli warplanes can reach the Islamic Republic.
“A bad deal will send the region spiraling into war,” Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told Reuters. Anyone seeking short-term benefits should be mindful of the longer-term. Israel will not allow Iran to attain nuclear arms. Iran has no immunity anywhere. Our planes can reach everywhere in the Middle East – and certainly Iran.”
Israel claims the JCPOA is a path to a nuclear-armed Iran because the agreement has an expiration date. But that ignores the fact that Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel refuses to sign due to its secret nuclear weapons program, the only one in the Middle East.
High-level Israeli officials visited Washington this week to voice their opposition to the JCPOA as the Biden administration is participating in indirect negotiations with Tehran over that aim to revive the agreement. Israel’s Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan said on Thursday that Israeli officials conveyed to the US that they will not be bound by the JCPOA and will continue to take action against Tehran.
Erdan said Israeli military officials told their US counterparts that “the freedom of action of Israel to prevent Iran from becoming an existential threat is a freedom of action that will be preserved.” He said the Biden administration “respects” Israel’s position.
Israel has already taken covert action against Iran to sabotage the nuclear negotiations. Most notably was the incident at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, which caused an explosion. The US has tried to distance itself from the dangerous attack but has refused to condemn it.
When asked about the Natanz attack on Wednesday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said, “We certainly believe that there are certain kinds of activities that are unhelpful to diplomacy.” Sullivan also said the US and Israel have a policy of “no surprises,” which suggests Washington could have had foreknowledge of the attack.