According to a report from Reuters, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz are expected on Thursday to discuss possible military exercises that would prepare for attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities.
The Reuters report cited an unnamed senior US official who said Pentagon leaders had briefed National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on what military options the US has to “ensure that Iran would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon.”
Since indirect negotiations between the US and Iran restarted last week in Vienna, Israeli officials have stepped up their rhetoric and are constantly claiming Iran is racing to develop a nuclear weapon. But Iran has repeatedly pledged that it does not want a bomb, and CIA Director William Burns said Monday that there is no evidence Tehran has decided to weaponize its nuclear program.
Regardless of Iran’s intentions, Israel is pushing hard for the Biden administration to abandon diplomacy with Iran, impose more sanctions, and prepare to take military action. But the last few years have shown, US pressure and Israeli covert attacks have only led to Iran advancing its civilian nuclear program.
Another report from Israel’s Kan broadcaster on Wednesday said that Israel will begin simulating attacks on Iran this Spring. Israeli warplanes will conduct drills in the Mediterranean Sea and fly the distance it would take to get to targets in Iran from Israel.
The JCPOA negotiations are expected to resume in Vienna on Thursday. The US has accused Iran of not taking the talks seriously after the last round. But Iran is simply asking for more sanctions relief from the US. On Tuesday, the Biden administration imposed fresh sanctions on Iran, which Tehran said was a sign that the US is the party not taking diplomacy seriously.
With the US wanting Iran to give in to its demands, discussing military options with Israel and leaking them to the press is likely part of the strategy to ramp up the pressure on Tehran.