Are comments by the Defense Minister at odds with his government?
By David Hellerman, World Israel News
While the Israeli government opposes the U.S. return to the Iranian nuclear agreement, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Sunday he was prepared to give his backing to a “broader, stronger and longer” agreement.
Gantz, was addressing Haaretz-UCLA Israeli National Security Conference by video when he said, “I can support an agreement that will be broader, stronger and longer, taking Iran back, dismantling its current capabilities, and placing effective inspections on its sites and on its weapons production.”
While Israeli policy is to support a stronger agreement than the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiated by President Barack Obama in 2015, Jerusalem’s assessment is that the Iran’s willingness to negotiate is playing for time. Israeli officials already fear that President Joe Biden’s administration will settle for an agreement that ends the current sanctions on Iran if the Islamic regime simply ceases its uranium enrichment — which would be even worse than the original JCPOA agreement.
Last week, in a phone call with Israeli officials, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan raised the trial balloon of an interim nuclear agreement to give negotiators more time. Sullivan’s Israeli counterpart, Dr. Eyal Hulata shot down the proposal.
Indirect U.S.-Iran talks are scheduled to resume in on November 29 in Vienna. Since the last round of Vienna negotiations, Iran has installed a more hardline government led by President Ebrahim Raisi, carried out a deadly drone strike on an Israeli ship, boosted its stockpile of enriched uranium and disrupted inspections of its facilities by monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, and tightened its influence over Lebanon.
The JCPOA agreement was signed by Iran along with with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the U.S., Russia, China, France and Britain — as well as the European Union and Germany. The agreement is vehemently opposed by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the JCPOA in 2018.
President Biden has made returning to the nuclear agreement a key foreign policy goal.