US, Israel to discuss drills for Iran worst-case scenario: Report
As diplomacy with Iran stutters, US official tells Reuters that American and Israeli defence chiefs will discuss preparations for a worst-case scenario.
The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna [File: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters]
9 Dec 2021
US and Israeli defence chiefs are expected on Thursday to discuss possible military exercises that would prepare for a worst-case scenario to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities should diplomacy fail and if their nations’ leaders request it, a senior US official told Reuters news agency.
The scheduled US talks with visiting Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz follow an October 25 briefing by Pentagon leaders to White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on the full set of military options available to ensure that Iran would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon, the official said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons, saying it wants to master nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
The US-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.
But US and European officials have voiced dismay after talks last week at sweeping demands by Iran’s new, hardline government, heightening suspicions in the West that Iran is playing for time while advancing its nuclear program.
The US official declined to offer details on the potential military exercises.
“We’re in this pickle because Iran’s nuclear programme is advancing to a point beyond which it has any conventional rationale,” the official said, while still voicing hope for discussions.
The Israeli embassy in Washington and Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The European Union official chairing the talks has said they will resume on Thursday, and the US special envoy for Iran plans to join them over the weekend.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said last week that Iran had started the process of enriching uranium to up to 20 percent purity with one cascade, or cluster, of 166 advanced IR-6 machines at its Fordow plant, which is dug into a mountain.
The 2015 agreement gave Iran relief from global sanctions but imposed strict limits on its uranium enrichment activities, extending the time it would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, if it chose to, to at least a year from about two to three months. Most nuclear experts say that period is now considerably shorter.
Underlining how badly eroded the deal is, that pact does not allow Iran to enrich uranium at Fordow at all, let alone with advanced centrifuges.
With the deal’s nuclear benefits now badly compromised, some Western officials say there is little time left before the foundation of the deal is damaged beyond repair.
Such drills by the United States and Israel could address calls by Dennis Ross, a former senior US official and Middle East expert, 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.
Ross even suggested that the United States should perhaps signal a willingness to give the Israelis the US military’s bunker-busting Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a 30,000-pound bomb.
Asked about such remarks about deterrence, the senior US official said: “When President Biden says Iran will never get a nuclear weapon, I mean, he means it.”
Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns said on Monday that the CIA does not believe Iran’s supreme leader has decided to take steps to weaponize a nuclear device but noted advances in its ability to enrich uranium, one pathway to the fissile material for a bomb.
Burns cautioned that, even if Iran decided to go ahead, it would still require a lot of work to weaponise that fissile material before attaching a nuclear weapon to a missile or other delivery system.
“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,” he said.
US officials have also long worried about America’s ability to detect and destroy dispersed components of Iran’s nuclear weaponisation programme once enough fissile material for a bomb were produced.
From: Inside Story
Can Iran’s pres­i­dent per­suade the world to end sanc­tions?
Ebrahim Raisi marks 100 days in of­fice by warn­ing the lift­ing of in­ter­na­tion­al sanc­tions is non-ne­go­tiable.
6 Dec 2021
Iran ex­plo­sion near Natanz nu­clear fa­cil­i­ty a con­trolled test
No dam­age was in­curred as part of the air de­fence test, ac­cord­ing to Iran­ian me­dia.
4 Dec 2021
Where does Iran’s nu­clear deal stand af­ter sev­en rounds of talks?
Eu­ro­pean del­e­ga­tions head back to cap­i­tals for con­sul­ta­tions af­ter sub­mis­sion of two pro­pos­als by Iran­ian side.
4 Dec 2021
From: Talk to Al Jazeera
Iran’s chief nu­clear ne­go­tia­tor: Can the JCPOA be re­vived?
Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s deputy for­eign min­is­ter, dis­cuss­es the lat­est round of Vi­en­na talks.
4 Dec 2021
Canada: Indigenous community finds 93 potential unmarked graves
Microsoft exceeds quarterly revenue estimates on cloud growth
Taiwan vice president heads to Honduras to work on shaky alliance
Cuba acknowledges prosecuting hundreds for last year’s protests
A simple guide to the Ukraine-Russia crisis: 5 things to know
Latest Russia-Ukraine updates: US says Putin may face sanctions
Western leaders step up plans for Russian invasion of Ukraine
Infographic: Military capabilities of Russia and Ukraine
Follow Al Jazeera English:
© 2022 Al Jazeera Media Network
You rely on Al Jazeera for truth and transparency
We understand that your online privacy is very important and consenting to our collection of some personal information takes great trust. We ask for this consent because it allows Al Jazeera to provide an experience that truly gives a voice to the voiceless. You have the option to decline the cookies we automatically place on your browser but allowing Al Jazeera and our trusted partners to use cookies or similar technologies helps us improve our content and offerings to you. You can change your privacy preferences at any time by selecting ‘Cookie preferences’ at the bottom of your screen.To learn more, please view our Cookie Policy.