Things seem to be ratcheting up on the Iran nuclear front. Within days of each other there were some ominous developments. The other day, the powerful chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), called for an end to negotiations with Iran and a new strategy. He told an AIPAC of New Jersey Leadership Dinner that “It is time to tell the Europeans, who[m] we have shown good faith with, that we were willing to enter into what was hopefully a stronger and longer deal, [but] the Iranians are not there.” He said dreaming about a deal with Iran was no substitute for developing real policy to deter Iran’s march toward becoming a nuclear power.
Menendez’ remarks followed reports that Iran has enriched sufficient amounts of uranium to develop a nuclear weapon. He went on to say that President Biden must apply the “snap back sanctions” provisions in the 2015 nuclear agreement and otherwise cooperate with other countries in joint sanction against Iran. He added that it was now important to confront the Chinese over their purchases of Iranian oil, which provide vast sums to Iran.
Perhaps most pointed was his endorsement of a specialized anti-Iran US military deterrence capability to demonstrate that we have “the will as well as the military capabilities … to defend our people and our interests.”
And then came reports of a massive simulated strike against Iran involving hundreds of IDF aircraft including fighter jets and refueling planes with US refueling planes practicing mid-air refueling of IDF fighter planes. In addition, US Central Command chief, Gen. Michael Kurilla was in Israel to observe the drill. Further, a day after the Israeli drill, Israel’s national security adviser met with his Washington counterpart with the two pledging economic, diplomatic and military coordination to stop Teheran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Of course, the backdrop to all of this are the regular ever-increasing Israeli attacks against Iranian positions in Syria and the Golan which have gone largely unanswered and series of explosions at Iranian nuclear sites and assassinations of Iranian military leaders which many have attributed to Israel. Just the other day, The New York Times reported that Israel has informed the US that it was responsible for last week’s assassination of Col. Hassan Syyad Khodayari, a key Iranian military leader. The Times also reported that Israel was behind last Thursday’s explosion at the Parchin military base, a major nuclear research site. Both of these revelations appear to be based on Biden Administration leaks which adds to the significance of the disclosures.
Perhaps the most telling disclosure may be Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s release the other day of documents confirming the recent Wall Street Journal reports that the Mossad’s heroic seizure of Iran nuclear documents in 2018 included evidence that Iran had stolen classified International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) documents and used them to dupe the IAEA and conceal its nuclear activities.
As Bennett tweeted: “Iran stole classified documents from the UN’s Atomic Agency and used that information to systematically evade nuclear probes. How do we know? Because we got our hands on Iran’s deception plan.” Bennett went on to quote from a note written by the then-Iranian defense minister to slain nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the “father of Iran’s nuclear program, that stated, “Sooner or later, they, [the inspectors] will ask us and we’ll need to have a comprehensive cover story.”
So things seem to be moving to some sort of confrontation. As Bennett also said: “Iran lied to the world. Iran is lying to the world again right now, and the world must make sure that Iran doesn’t get away scot-free.