Israel is closely watching how the US approaches discussions with Iran.
Israel has a couple of priorities of its own.
Israeli officials do not want a confrontation with the Biden administration.
Making sure the Biden administration will work to effectively and altogether stop the development of nuclear weapons in Iran is a top priority for Israel. Discussing clauses aimed at preventing Tehran’s malign actions in the Middle East and ballistic missile program, several senior officials in Israel began formulating a strategy this week.
The Israelisaim to discourage the Biden administration from “compliance for compliance” discussions with Iran, leading to the US rejoining the Iran nuclear deal made in 2015. According to a high-level government source, sanctions will more than likely have to be lifted to influence Iran’s exchange of complying with the agreement.
Another priority for Israel is “anywhere, anytime inspections” of an Iranian nuclear site. This is safer for the Middle East and the rest of the world, for that matter. Tehran knowing ahead of time the inspections will be happening can not happen. As the deal was before, this was a luxury the Iranians had.
When comparing these priorities and some of the ones being discussed by members of the Biden administration, one can easily see these are more significant. Reports from several Israeli media sources back what’s being discussed by the new US administration. Some of the clauses the US is currently bringing up include Iran putting an end to its ballistic missile program. Also, some of its activities throughout the region will have to cease.
“We can live with what Iran does in Syria – we attack there anyway,” a senior Israeli source says. “The sunset clauses are a bigger concern for Israel.”
According to another senior Israeli official, Iran can not be given the right to enrich uranium under any future framework. “No country that wants a peaceful nuclear program should demand to enrich independently.”
As of now, the Israeli government hasn’t adopted an official plan to address the intentions of the Biden administration on negotiating a US return to the Iran deal. It was reported earlier in the week by the Jerusalem Post there has not even been a meeting to discuss the issue. Instead, according to a senior Israeli government source,a few top ministers will more than likely develop an overall strategy for the matter.
What’s next for the Biden administration?
In the last few weeks, officials from the Biden administration have said discussions of returning to the JCPOA are premature. The US is planning to speak with allies in the Middle East and the surrounding region, including Israel. Officials claim these discussions will happen before a new deal with Iran is negotiated.
Both of the earlier mentioned Israeli sources have said Israel is reassured with the Biden administration’s remarks. According to the two sources, Israel does not want to fight with President Biden. Instead, the Israeli officials would rather closed-door conversations take place between top officials. It was made clear that a healthy relationship between Israel and the US is of Israeli strategic importance.
Within the coming months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to ask for a personal meeting with President Biden. A meeting between the two roles is customary within the first couple of months of a new administration.
With this administration’s policies on Iran and intentions of a new deal, this meeting is urgent. Even more so than they’ve been in previous decades. That being said, Israel has an upcoming election on March 23. President Biden may put the meeting off until after the election to avoid the appearance of taking sides.