IDF Spokesman Brigadier General Ran Kochav told Reshet Bet radio on Tuesday morning: “We have accelerated our readiness to prevent Iran from establishing itself on the northern front and to prevent it from becoming a nuclear-threshold state.” He added: “When I say we are accelerating the plans against Iran – I mean it.”
On Monday, after a five-month hiatus, the talks on reestablishing the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement were resumed in Vienna at the Palais Coburg hotel, where the original document had been signed.
On the eve of the renewed talks, a spokesman for Iran’s army issued a statement saying: “The destruction of the occupation regime in Jerusalem is the greatest goal before us and the greatest goal we are striving for. We will not back down from this ideal by one millimeter, even if we are torn to pieces.” And he added: “The fake Zionist regime must disappear and it will surely disappear.”
דובר בכיר ותת-אלוף בצבא אירן אמש רגע לפני פתיחת שיחות הגרעין בוינה:
“השמדת משטר הכיבוש בירושלים היא המטרה הגדולה ביותר שלפנינו והמטרה הגדולה ביותר שאנו חותרים אליה. לא נסוג מהאידיאל הזה מילימטר אחד, גם אם ניקרע לגזרים”.
“המשטר הציוני המזויף חייב להיעלם והוא בוודאי ייעלם” pic.twitter.com/A5OgRNIGHY
— יוני בן מנחם yoni ben menachem (@yonibmen) November 30, 2021
With that in mind, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued a statement directed at the five powers negotiating with the Iranians, saying: “Do not give in to Iran’s nuclear blackmail.”
The PM continued: “Today, Iran will be arriving at negotiations in Vienna with a clear goal: To end sanctions in exchange for almost nothing. Iran won’t just keep its nuclear program; from today, they’ll be getting paid for it.”
Referring to the jarring message above, Bennett said: “Iran doesn’t hide its intentions. Just a couple of days ago, the senior command of Iran’s Armed Forces declared, and I quote, ‘We will not back off from the annihilation of Israel, not even one millimeter.’
“Just this week, the Iranian regime shot its own people on the streets of Isfahan for having dared to protest the lack of water in their country. Yes, they shot their own citizens just for being thirsty.
“Such a murderous regime should not be rewarded. Despite Iran’s violations and undermining of the nuclear inspections, Iran will be arriving at the negotiation table in Vienna, and some think they deserve to have their sanctions removed and hundreds of billions of dollars poured right into their rotten regime. They’re wrong.
“Iran deserves no rewards, no bargain deals, and no sanctions relief in return for their brutality. I call upon our allies around the world: Do not give in to Iran’s nuclear blackmail.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued his own statement, saying: “In the past days, Israeli teams have shared intelligence with our friends around the world that points to Iran’s current process of dashing towards a nuclear weapon, blatantly violating the agreement that is in place with Europe.
“To our partners, I stress – the time that passes must have a price expressed in sanctions or military alternatives so that Iran will stop its nuclear race and its regional aggression.
“We do not oppose negotiations but we must not cooperate with their stalling. We recognize the international community’s work to reach a diplomatic solution with the Iranians, yet we must continue, as a strong and independent country to maintain the capability to defend ourselves.”
Israel has made it clear in recent days that Iran is reaching the current round of talks only to remove as many sanctions as possible, at the lowest possible cost, without giving up its ambition to develop a nuclear weapon very soon.
A senior Israeli official told Haaretz on Tuesday that “the Iranian economy is rotten and Government corruption is severe. “The leadership is unable to deal with the Corona, which has fatally damaged the Iranian public,” he said, adding, “At the tough situation they’re in, they will make an effort to remove the sanctions that make it most difficult for them financially – but as things stand at the moment, they have no intention of really giving up their military nuclear program.”
Iran is insisting on lifting all the sanctions immediately, which won’t play very well in DC. Iran is also insisting that the US and its three allies—the UK, France, and Germany—promise to never again impose sanctions on Iran, according to Iranian chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian issued a similar statement on Monday, saying Iran’s primary goal is “to gain a full, guaranteed and verifiable removal of the sanctions that have been imposed on the Iranian people,” and in that context, he views the renewed talks not so much as debating the restrictions on his country’s nuclear arms program but rather as “negotiations to remove unlawful and inhuman sanctions.”
Israel is very concerned about the possibility that the countries around the table, especially the Biden White House, would accede to the Iranian requests regarding the removal of sanctions even before a clear commitment is reached to freeze the military nuclear project and adopt a strict supervisory regime.
A signal for such a move being around the corner can be seen in Tuesday’s schedule of discussions in Vienna, which will include a meeting on the issue of lifting sanctions – well before agreements have been reached on a return to the nuclear agreement.