U.S. And Israel To Discuss Military Drills For Different Iran Scenarios

U.S. talks with visiting Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday are expected to discuss possible military exercises that would prepare for a worst-case scenario to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities should diplomacy fail a senior U.S. official told Reuters. The talks follow an Oct. 25 briefing by Pentagon leaders to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan 

Iran Nuclear Sites
A Nuclear Iran

The U.S. official said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity said the U.S.-Israeli preparations, which have not been previously reported, underscore Western concern about difficult nuclear talks with Iran that President Joe Biden had hoped would revive a 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by his predecessor Donald Trump.

Such military drills by the United States and Israel could address calls by former senior U.S. official and Middle East expert Dennis Ross, and others to openly signal to Tehran that the United States and Israel are still serious about preventing it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“Biden needs to disabuse Iran of the notion that Washington will not act militarily and will stop Israel from doing so,” Ross wrote last month.

Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns on Monday said the CIA does not believe Iran’s supreme leader has decided to take steps to weaponize a nuclear device but did note advances in its ability to enrich uranium, one pathway to the fissile material for a bomb.

“But they’re further along in their mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle and that’s the kind of knowledge that is very difficult to sanction away or make disappear, as well,” he said.

Iran’s new president had delayed restarting talks while pressing ahead with nuclear work. Iran is in no hurry after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 agreement called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA deal in 2018. He from that imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran. Iran’s response has been to gradually resume efforts to produce highly enriched uranium and uranium metal, both of which are critical components for atomic weapons.

After the recent failed talks, the seventh round of talks between U.S., European and Iranian diplomats. The first since Mr. Raisi won the presidential election in June U.S. and European officials have voiced dismay at sweeping demands by Iran’s government.

Iran has played the current US President as best it could knowing that reviving the deal is a top Biden foreign-policy goal. Iran has carried on knowing the troubled nuclear talks is just one of a list of foreign-policy missteps for President Biden. He has elevated tensions with China and Washington has been voicing growing concerns about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine amid rifts with some European leaders over the exit from Afghanistan and the new security pact with Australia and Britain in the face of France.

“We’re in this pickle because Iran’s nuclear program is advancing to a point beyond which it has any conventional rationale,” the official said, while still voicing hope for discussions.

The European Union official chairing the talks said they will resume on Thursday, and the U.S. special envoy for Iran plans to join them over the weekend.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week said that Iran had started the process of enriching uranium to up to 20% purity with one cascade, or cluster, of 166 advanced IR-6 machines at its Fordow plant, which dug into a mountain, making harder to attack Reuters reported.

Another factor favoring Iran is the surge in oil and Biden’s unwillingness to meet errors in his energy strategy. His desperate measures have left him exposed to Iran’s oil bargaining chip. Some would suggest he would rather do a faulty deal with Iran than one with Texas to increase production.

Indeed President Biden in his latest shift of finding blame and solutions for high oil prices last week sent a letter to the FTC to consider whether “illegal conduct” by large oil and gas companies is pushing up gasoline prices for American consumers. The F.T.C., does have the power to break up large industry players but in reality is unlikely to affect gasoline prices materially any time soon. Read More Here.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced it will release 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower oil prices. This release will be taken in parallel with other major energy consuming nations including China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom. This has been well telegraphed with oil down roughly 10% from recent highs. Read More Here.

This has not been missed by Iran. Iran is making plans to once again access world oil markets if it is successful in having sanctions removed. Managing director of the National Iranian Oil Co., Mohsen Khojastehmehr, were made to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency where he said “Plans are in place to increase oil output to more than 5 million barrels a day” 

The Biden administration had hoped a swift restoration of the nuclear deal could avoid a deepening crisis in the Middle East. Such a deal would then lay the platform for talks with Tehran on a longer agreement that could tackle issues like Iran’s ballistic missile program. The prospect of such a more wide-ranging agreement now looks far off. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi must be laughing at the sheer ignorance. He appears to grow more skeptical of the deal and the West by day.

Just last week European officials warned Iran’s research work on centrifuges used to enrich uranium, also meant that Iran’s growing know-how was “irreversibly reducing” the ability to constrain its nuclear program. Even Russia’s top negotiator warned there was “an obvious need to speed up” the talks.

The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month that “We are getting closer to a point at which returning to compliance with the JCPOA will not in and of itself recapture the benefits of the JCPOA,” because of Iranian advances.

Another thorn in the side for any deal is Israel, which has warned it could act militarily to stop Iran’s nuclear program. At this point are the negotiations jsut a boon for Vienna hotels needing increased business from the COVID lockdowns?

Source: WSJ, Reuters, IRNA, TC

From The TradersCommunity Research Desk