Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Avi Kohavi met with top US military officials in Washington on Sunday and Monday to express Israel’s opposition to the Biden administration reviving the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
The IDF released a statement on what Kohavi conveyed to the US. “The chief of staff presented the failures of the current nuclear deal, which allow Iran to make significant advances in the coming years in the quantity and quality of centrifuges and in the amount and quality of enriched uranium, and he stressed the lack of oversight in the area of developing a nuclear weapon,” the statement said.
Kohavi and other Israeli have been warning the US against rejoining the JCPOA since President Biden came into office in January. The warnings have come along with veiled threats. Some Israeli officials have outright said Israel would attack Iran if the deal is revived, and Israel’s new Mossad chief recently threatened more covert attacks.
The US and Iran have been engaged in indirect negotiations to revive the JCPOA since April. While progress has been slow due to Biden’s refusal to lift all Trump-era sanctions, the two sides have said they want to finish before August, when Iran’s President-elect Ebrahim Raisi will replace President Hassan Rouhani.
Raisi is viewed as a hardliner who might not be as patient with the US as Rouhani is. But Raisi still ultimately favors a revival of the JCPOA if the US lifts sanctions. On Monday, Israel’s new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Raisi’s election should “wake up” the world powers that are working to revive the JCPOA.
Israel’s covert attacks and sabotage against Iran and the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, which Israel greatly influenced, have only emboldened Iran’s hardliners. For trusting the US, Rouhani has little to show while his country suffers under the weight of crippling economic sanctions.
Kohavi’s visit was just the latest delegations of Israeli officials in Washington warning against the JCPOA. His trip was delayed by a month due to Israel’s 11-day bombing campaign in Gaza in May that killed over 250 Palestinians, including over 60 children. After the slaughter, Israel requested an additional $1 billion in military aid from the US, on top of the $3.8 billion it receives from Washington each year. Last week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed that the US is giving Israel additional aid, although it’s not clear if it will be the full $1 billion.
While it wasn’t mentioned in reports on Kohavi’s visit, the Gaza operation and the additional aid were likely discussed during his visit to Washington. Israel bombed Gaza a few times last week, marking the first air raids under Bennett.