Amid reports of an emerging renewed nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic, Defense Minister Benny Gantz told US President Joe Biden’s national security advisers on Friday that Israel “needs” the US to have a credible military option against Iran, a senior Israeli official told reporters on Friday. and world power.
Israel has received “good indications” that the US is planning an offensive against Iran, according to a defense official. He did not elaborate, but said it would potentially ensure that Tehran is more flexible during negotiations for a new deal. If not, the US would be ready to act against Iran alongside Israel, which is also preparing military options.
The official said the meeting between Gantz and Jake Sullivan in Washington was “intimate” and “positive”. He said Gantz emphasized Israel’s objections to a potential deal, which Israel called “very bad.”
Iran’s nuclear program has grown significantly since 2018 after then-US President Donald Trump pulled out of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official warned. The official said he personally viewed Trump’s move as a mistake.
The official said the situation has reached a point where there are only two scenarios: no deal, allowing Iran to gradually expand its nuclear program, or a bad deal that does not serve Israel’s interests.
The official said Israel has two main concerns regarding a potential deal: the so-called sunset clause, which would lift limits on Iran’s nuclear program when the deal expires; and sanctions relief that would allow Iran to increase funding to its proxies.
The official added that Israel has tried to influence the deal in as many specific aspects as possible, but “so far, it is far from what they see in Israel’s interests.” The official said Israel was trying to make the deal “longer and stronger.”
Still, the official said Gantz’s objections received a positive response from Sullivan. “I think the American people have finally agreed to everything we want, even though we are being heard,” the official said.
The official said that Israel would still have the freedom to act against Iran and that whether the deal is signed or not, Jerusalem would continue its efforts against Iranian actions hostile to it.
“Sullivan emphasized President Biden’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, and the two exchanged views on ways to strengthen the US-Israel security partnership, including regional cooperation and coordination,” said a readout issued by a US National Security Council spokesperson.
“They discussed America’s commitment to ensuring that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon and the need to address threats posed by Iran and Iran-based proxies. “They discussed the need to ensure equal measures of security, freedom and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis, and the importance of ongoing follow-through on initiatives announced during President Biden’s visit to Israel,” the statement said.
On Thursday, Gantz met with General Michael Kurilla, head of US Central Command, at CENTCOM’s headquarters in Florida. Gantz was briefed on the US plans within days of agreeing to a nuclear deal or not. He was also given a tour of the fleet of refueling planes used for long-range missions.
Gantz and Kurilla’s talks focused on ways to increase cooperation between Israel and the US military, ways to counter the Iranian threat in the Middle East and a “Plan B” for the nuclear deal.
Gantz warned Kurilla that Iran would feel more “free” to act if no deal was reached, and that Israel and the US needed to strengthen cooperation with regional allies to counter possible actions by Iran or its proxies.
Gantz pressed Kurilla on the US’s ability to act in Iran if Tehran pushed ahead with developing nuclear weapons. Last month, Biden told Israel’s Channel 12 news that he would use force as a “last resort” to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
CENTCOM officially assumed responsibility for US military relations with Israel in September of last year. Until then, Israel was placed in the area of responsibility of the European Command (EUCOM) to avoid potential tensions between CENTCOM and the Arab and Muslim nations in its jurisdiction, many of which did not maintain formal relations with Israel and therefore did not wish to be considered mutual allies.
In recent years, however, CENTCOM’s Arab allies have developed increasing ties to Israel, some informally, so the issue has largely faded.
“Israel’s influence in the region is getting stronger,” a senior defense official told reporters on Friday.
“Players in the region are no less troubled by the emerging contract than we are. We have the media and in many ways they trusted us to convince and influence them,” he said.
The official said such communication is taking place “under the Centcom umbrella”.
If the new deal is signed, Israeli officials say Iran will significantly increase funding for its proxies in the Middle East, including the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group on Israel’s northern border.
Gantz was visiting the US the same week as Israel’s National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata, both carrying messages of displeasure from Jerusalem at the pace of talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
Iran said on Wednesday that the US has responded to its proposal to return to the 2015 deal.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby declined to characterize the administration’s response to the latest proposal, but noted that “we are closer now than we were a few weeks ago because Iran has decided to make some concessions.”
Prime Minister Yair Lapid told reporters on Thursday that Israel’s efforts to influence the outcome of the negotiations had paid off, but that the deal was still a “bad deal” for Israel.
Mossad chief David Burnia has called the emerging deal “a strategic disaster” for Israel, in recent meetings about the deal. He said it would be “very bad for Israel” and that the U.S. is “ultimately rushing into a deal based on lies,” claiming Iran’s nuclear activities are peaceful.
Israel has long opposed the deal, arguing that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear bomb and has published intelligence revealing the Iranian weapons program. Iran has denied any nefarious intentions and claims its program is designed for peaceful purposes, although it has recently been enriching uranium that international leaders say has no civilian use.
Agencies contributed to this report.