Israel’s (Unconfirmed) Strike on Iran Strengthens America’s Negotiation Position

April 12 2021

Yesterday, a major power failure occurred at the Islamic Republic’s main uranium-enrichment facility in the city of Natanz, causing considerable damage. While Jerusalem has not commented, credible reports have suggested that a Mossad cyberattack was behind the blackout. Moreover, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the IDF chief of staff Aviv Kokhavi seem to have hinted in public statements that Israel was responsible. Lahav Harkov examines the reasons for, and possible consequence of, the incident:

On Friday, the U.S. and Iran continued indirect negotiations for their return to the [2015 nuclear] deal. Though some of the other parties to the Iran deal expressed optimism that an agreement can be reached, Iran maintained its stance that all post-2015 sanctions be removed before it takes any steps to return to compliance with the deal’s nuclear limitations. Soon after, a senior State Department official said that if Iran doesn’t budge, then the sides will reach an impasse.

The next day, Iran further breached the [2015 agreement] by launching advanced uranium-enrichment machines at the underground nuclear facility in Natanz. This seems like it was a gambit by Iran to have a longer list of items that it can scale back from in negotiations, while still ending up closer to a nuclear bomb than the [deal] originally allowed.

Then, less than a day later, there was a mysterious power outage in Natanz that derailed the whole thing. There are indications that the disruptions in Natanz were the result of a cyberattack, and—as always—all eyes are on Israel when these things happen. And Iran has yet to recover from recent “incidents,” such as a July 2020 explosion that set back its nuclear program.

Thus the attack took Natanz off the table, weakening the Islamic Republic’s negotiating position.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy