Gantz: ‘Iran doesn’t have bargaining chips – End its time-dragging strategy’

Defense Minister briefed Knesset on his U.S visit, stressed that Tehran’s weak domestic situation presents “an opportunity.”

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

Defense Minister Benny Gantz addressed the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday and called “to put an end to Iran’s ‘time-dragging’ strategy.”

Gantz discussed recent developments vis-à-vis Iran and spoke about his recent visit to the US.

He explained that “Iran’s domestic situation presents an opportunity for the international community. Iran is not a leading power – its citizens are suffering as a result of the poor economic situation, investments and development have been slashed by 50 percent in the last decade, and the country faces a variety of internal and external challenges. The Iranian regime is well aware of this situation and as such, Iran is coming into negotiations without real bargaining chips. It is possible and necessary to put an end to Iran’s ‘time-dragging’ strategy.”

The Defense Minister cryptically added, “We are deepening international cooperation, and I am certain that soon – both overt and covert actions will be expanded, by a variety of means.”

At the same time, for the past year and a half, the IDF has been engaged “in force buildup, procuring new means that will ensure Israel’s security superiority in the region in the face of all threats,” he underscored.

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Gantz’s remarks came as Iran’s Commander of Khatam al-Anbiya Headquarters Major General Gholam Ali Rashid warned Israel and the US that “any adventurism against Iran’s nuclear and military sites will receive a crushing response.”

“If such threats become practical, the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic in accordance with the exercised operational plans will immediately attack the origin of the aggression, all centers, bases, routes and spaces used for the attacks,” Rashid said on Monday.

“Any threat to the nuclear and military bases of the Islamic Republic of Iran by the Zionist regime is not possible without the green light and the support of the US,” he said.

In the meantime, Tehran and world powers remained split on the progress made in the Vienna talks on the return to the nuclear deal.

A senior State Department official commented on Friday on the JCPOA talks and said that they were “better than it might have been, it was worse than it should have been, which leaves us in an uncertain position as to whether we can get to where we need to go in the short time that we have left to get there.”

He noted “modest progress” but “given how much work still needs to be done, given that we still have not achieved that level of clarity on the other issues, there still is a lot of work to do,” and “all of this takes place under a circumstance where time is running out because of the pace of Iran’s nuclear program.”

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The US “cannot accept a situation where Iran drags its feet at the negotiating table and accelerates its pace with its nuclear program. So we made some progress, not enough, certainly at a pace that will not be sufficient to get to where we need to go before Iran’s nuclear advances render the JCPOA a corpse that cannot be revived,” he cautioned.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that the US has “no tangible proposal or text” in the talks

“Should the other side come to Vienna with tangible proposals, we can reach an agreement in the shortest possible time,” he claimed.