Although never proven, there is little that is not an open secret about the shadow war Israel has “allegedly” been waging against Iran through stealth attacks on its senior military and nuclear scientists, nuclear sites, ships at sea, overseas military installations and surrogates. And this is to say nothing about “allegations” of similar efforts by the US.
So the vehemence of the outrage both countries, joined by the UK, directed at Iran over the bombing last Friday of an oil tanker managed by an Israeli-owned company, had an almost non-sequitur air about it. Nor was here any sign of the familiar diplomatic dodge about having to wait until all the evidence was in before casting blame. Yet Iran has denied responsibility for the attack and Israel, the UK and the US have not produced any physical evidence or intelligence information on which they based their assignment of blame to Iran.
Something serious seems to be up. Nor is the reaction to the tanker attack the only indication.
Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken cautioned that the Iran negotiating process would not be allowed to drift:
“We are committed to diplomacy, but this process cannot go on indefinitely. At some point the gains achieved by the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) cannot be recovered by a return to the JCPOA if Iran continues the activities that it’s undertaken with regard to its nuclear program.”
Two days later the lead American negotiator, Robert Malley, echoed those concerns, noting a concern that the Iranians are learning so much from the work now underway that in the near future, it may be impossible to return to the old accord. He added ominously, “At that point, we will have to reassess the way forward. We hope it does not come to that.”
Malley went on to note further that everything is on hold until the new Iranian president assumes office and that “there’s a real risk here that that they come back with unrealistic demands about what they can achieve in these talks.” In other words, the prospect for still further delay.
And the next day came the no-nonsense joint blaming of Iran for the attack on the tanker, which appeared to us to signal that as far as the US, Israel and the UK are concerned, there is a side of the angels in this conflict and we are on it.
We get the feeling that the US and Great Britain have come to accept what we and no doubt, Israel, have believed all along – that Iran’s commitment to negotiate a return to JCPOA was a feigned one and just so much razzmatazz designed to buy the Iranians as much time as possible to pursue unfettered their march towards becoming a nuclear power. And further, that they believe the time to do something about it is now at hand.
In fact, all things being considered, this would seem to be a most fortuitous time for bringing things to a head. The Iranian economy is in tatters. The effects of Covid remain. There is widespread unrest across Iran over the lack of basic services and the regime’s foreign adventures.
Think regime change and perhaps coordinated air attacks against Iranian nuclear facilities.