Report: Israel strategizing for US return to Iran nuclear deal

It’s likely that Israel will adopt a different strategy than the hardline stance it took nearly a decade ago during the original nuclear deal negotiations.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israel appears to be gearing up for an American return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal amid a frosty silence between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rising tensions in the region.

Netanyahu is planning to meet in the near future with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to develop a united front towards the Iranian issue, Kan News reported.

While Biden has promised not to lift sanctions on Iran as the nation repeatedly violates the terms of the 2015 agreement, the Israeli government is concerned that Biden will want to return to a modified version of the deal.

In a September 2020 op-ed for CNN, Biden wrote, “Five years ago, Iran was a bad regional actor requiring active deterrence and pushback. But it had not conducted a major attack on U.S. forces in the region in years.

“I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations… I am ready to walk the path of diplomacy if Iran takes steps to show it is ready too.”

Biden’s secretary of state, Antony Blinken, was closely involved in shaping the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran and harshly criticized former president Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the agreement in 2018.

It’s likely that Israel will adopt a different strategy than the hardline stance it took nearly a decade ago during the original nuclear deal negotiations.

In 2013, the Obama administration, backed by the UK, China, Germany, Russia and France, began negotiating with Iran about curbing its nuclear development program.

Israel vehemently opposed the process, favoring a non-diplomatic route to stopping the program, and wound up outside of the negotiating room and having no say when the 2015 deal was created.

In November 2020, Walla! News reported that Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said during a closed door security meeting that “we don’t want to be on the outside this time.”

That same month, a senior Saudi government official slammed Biden, in an interview with Israel Hayom, calling him a “a pro-Iranian president who will adopt a conciliatory policy towards Tehran that will endanger the region.”

An Emirati security official added, “There is grave concern that Biden’s cabinet will be made up of Obama’s people and that the Biden administration will remove sanctions from Tehran.”