Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to discuss a possible “Plan B” for dealing with the fact that Iran has become a “nuclear threshold” country and is on the verge of having the capability to build a nuclear weapon.
Ever since the ascension of Ebrahim Raisi to the presidency of Iran in June, it’s been clear that Iran has been stalling for time. They keep assuring the U.S. that they want to start negotiations on the moribund 2015 nuclear accord but they refuse to give a date or make any kind of concessions.
Meanwhile, they have installed hundreds of new, vastly improved centrifuges and are enriching uranium to levels of 60 percent — a far higher level than they would need to fuel any reactor.
Iran has also interfered with the IAEA inspectors, preventing them from removing recorded information from cameras and sensors. The information is being stored in Iran, presumably until a deal is negotiated.
All of this points to deliberate non-cooperation by Iran and a nuclear program now moving with great speed to complete its work. Israel is ready to go to war.
“We will look at every option to to deal with the challenge posed by Iran,” Blinken said. “And we continue to believe that diplomacy is the most effective way to do that. But, it takes two to engage in diplomacy, and we have not seen from Iran a willingness to do that at this point.”
Lapid was more blunt, raising anew Israel’s warnings that it will act, with military force if necessary, to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
“There are moments when nations must use force to protect the world from evil,” he said. “If a terror regime is going to acquire a nuclear weapon we must act. We must make clear that the civilized world won’t allow it. If the Iranians don’t believe the world is serious about stopping them, they will race to the bomb.”
Lapid had a meeting with Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, where the Israeli foreign minister briefed him on Israel’s “alternative plan” for dealing with Iran.
Lapid is reportedly briefing senior Biden administration officials on Israel’s idea for “an alternative plan,” given that the current U.S. efforts to restart talks with Tehran are leading nowhere. After his meeting with Lapid on Tuesday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan put out a statement reaffirming the Biden administration’s commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. But Sullivan declined to say what, if any, strategy the Biden administration has beyond the current approach.
Indeed, Biden’s commitment to preventing Iran from going nuclear will now get a real-world test. U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said Wednesday that Iran is showing no signs of wanting to return to the negotiating table.
“Every day they are not coming back to the table … is telling us that this is a team that may not in fact be prepared to come back into [the nuclear deal],” Malley said. “We have to prepare for a world … where Iran doesn’t have constraints on its nuclear program and we have to consider options for dealing with that, even as we hope that we can get back to the deal.”
To believe that Iran was “constrained” in any way by that unsigned, unratified piece of paper is dangerously naive. It’s no accident that Iran Supreme Leader Khamenei chose a murderous hardline, fanatical man to be president. President Raisi is just the sort of man to lead a totalitarian state in wartime.
Israel is well aware of this and now contemplates its military options — none of which will guarantee success. What Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wants from Biden is a pledge not to interfere. If Biden isn’t going to support Israel, the least he can do is stay out of its way.