In an interview with Foreign Policy, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Israel could accept a revival of a US-negotiated Iran nuclear deal if there are backup plans that involve more sanctions and possible military actions.
“The current US approach of putting the Iran nuclear program back in a box, I’d accept that,” Gantz said when asked about the Biden administration’s Iran strategy. The comment signals a possible shift in Israel’s stance on the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, although Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has repeatedly said he is opposed to a revival of the agreement.
Gantz said Israel wants to see a “viable US-led plan B” that includes more economic pressure if the talks fail, although Iran is already under an enormous amount of US sanctions. “Israel has no ability to lead a real plan B, we can’t put together an international economic sanctions regime. This has to be led by the US,” he said.
Gantz also hinted at a possible “plan C” being considered by Israel that involves military action. “If push comes to shove, we’ll get there,” he said of attacking Iran. “We’re not America, but we have our capabilities.”
Israel frequently takes covert action against Iran, and these attacks have caused Tehran to increase uranium enrichment. In April, when Iran and the US started indirect JCPOA negotiations, Israel carried out an attack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility. In response, Iran began to enrich some uranium at 60 percent, which Israel now points to as evidence Tehran is racing towards a bomb when that is not the case.
Iran is clearly using the 60 percent enrichment as leverage over Washington. The US does not openly support Israel’s covert attacks inside Iran, but by not condemning them, Washington tacitly endorses the reckless provocations.
The JCPOA talks have been stalled since June 20th. The negotiations dragged out due to the Biden administration’s refusal to lift all Trump-era sanctions and were further delayed by Iran’s presidential election. The new Raisi government said it is ready to resume the JCPOA talks in the “near future,” but it’s not clear when they might start.