Israel may need more time to prepare military option against Iran

As negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal unfold in Vienna, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on December 1 and told him Iran is using “”nuclear blackmailAs a negotiating tactic, and the United States should therefore initiate “an immediate cessation of negotiations.” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also met this week, on November 30, in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron, and stressed to him that Iran was trying to delay negotiations in order to advance its nuclear program and underlined the immediate need to return to difficult conditions. punishments.

Bennett’s statement followed a report released on Dec. 1 by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran has started enriching uranium to a 20% purity level using advanced centrifuges at the Fordow underground facility. They express Israel’s official position that the nuclear deal with Iran is wrong and that the powers should immediately stop negotiations.

Israel is deeply troubled by what is happening in Vienna, as reports of the nuclear negotiations in recent days support the first Israeli estimate that Iran will present a very hard line to the talks and try to delay the return to the framework of the United Nations. OK. Israel believes Iran is slow to use this time to continue the nuclear program without inspection and to store enough enriched material and knowledge that would allow a rapid breakthrough into nuclear power.

The Israeli position is complicated.

On the one hand, Israel has not bothered to hide the fact that it is unhappy to see the United States and European countries interested in signing a nuclear deal with Iran that is not essentially different from the initial nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed in 2015. According to him, the many flaws in the agreement would ultimately allow Iran to achieve a nuclear bomb in several years, in limits of international consent.

But on the other hand, despite the declared Israeli approach to opposing the nuclear deal, Israel is hoping that if the United States has already decided to sign the deal, it had better happen quickly – The sooner the better. Indeed, a deal would at least temporarily stop Iran’s rush for nuclear capability at this point, and prompt it to stop enrichment at high purity levels and stop acquiring the knowledge that would allow a breakthrough. nuclear fast. In such a case, Israel hopes, the Israeli defense establishment could “buy time” to complete its preparations to mount a good and reliable military option that could respond to Iran’s nuclear plan.

Israel has previously admitted that due to the signing of the nuclear deal in 2015, the IDF’s ability to attack Iran has become weaker and resources have been diverted to more urgent needs, such as preparations for war with Hezbollah in the north. and alleged attacks in Syria and other parts of the Middle East.

Although the United States quit the nuclear deal in 2018 at the initiative of President Donald Trump, Israel did not change its policy because it believed that the President’s “maximum pressure” policy and severe sanctions imposed on Iran will not allow it to carry out its nuclear plan. But in reality, Israel has been caught off guard for the new administration’s measures in Washington and for the lifting of sanctions against Iran, which has led Tehran to strive for nuclear capability with all its might. and take giant steps towards a bomb.

These developments led Bennett and Defense Secretary Benny Gantz to lead the defense establishment a few months ago for a real possibility of an attack on Iran. Resources have been allocated in the defense budget, but the Air Force and Army apparently need time to finish preparing for an attack. Preparations do not focus solely on the attack itself, as Israel must prepare for the possibility that if it attacks Iran, Iran will try to respond from its territory and the territory of others. States where it is based, and of course, through Hezbollah in Lebanon, which would have tens of thousands of rockets formed on Israel.

Despite the many Israeli statements on the subject, which apparently were primarily aimed at strengthening Israeli deterrence against Iran, defense establishment leaders understand that the effectiveness of an Israeli attack is questionable, and still hope that United States will handle the crisis, toughen up sanctions and, if necessary, attack itself. If Israel were to ultimately act on its own, it would need, at the very least, the support of the US administration in ammunition during the war, as well as its help in securing more interceptors for the Iron Dome defense system. .

In order to coordinate all of these moves and voice Israeli concerns, Gantz will leave for Washington on December 8 for a series of diplomatic meetings, at the center of which will be a meeting with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Blinken. The main topic they will discuss will of course be Iran and the Israelis want to agree with the United States on the next steps.

Gantz plans to ask his American counterparts to prepare an alternative to the real possibility of the Vienna negotiations failing, which Jerusalem expects. Among other things, Israel will ask the United States for additional shows of force in the Middle East, which would be more powerful than the flight of American bombers over Israeli skies. Gantz is expected to present current intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program to his counterparts, suggest that they prepare a plan to impose additional and tougher sanctions on Iran, and ask them to support moderate states in the Middle East, which are very concerned about the Iranian movements.

Also on the agenda is an Israeli attempt to advance US clearance for Iron Dome interceptors, which is delayed because Democratic lawmakers refused to vote on aid promised to Israel after Operation Guardian of the Walls. in the Gaza Strip.

Somehow Israel understands these are critical times and hopes that ultimately, even if the United States makes every possible mistake along the way, when it becomes clear that the ‘Iran is just one step away from the nuclear bomb, the United States would regain its sanity and prevent it from achieving nuclear capability, since no US president wants Iran to become a nuclear nation for its administration.

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