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.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

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

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy