Are there Prospects for an Interim Agreement?

During the recent meeting between Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the two nations shared their respective military plans for attacking the Iranian nuclear weapons program and discussed joint military exercises in planned training for destroying the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Nevertheless, the JCPOA despite being moribund is not yet dead and buried. Israel is intensely suspicious that the Biden administration will stab Israel in the back as did the Obama administration in 2015 and conclude an interim agreement with Iran that would freeze uranium enrichment in return for some sanctions relief.

It is unclear what are the origins of Israel’s concerns since Israel claims to not maintain spies on US soil and so the origins of this information must be Israeli signals intelligence. It is indeed possible that the US is desperate enough to entertain hopes to enter into an interim agreement with Khomeinist Iran despite denying this is so and despite Tehran stating that Iran has no interest in such an agreement.

However, these Israeli concerns may rather indicate that Israel is just as desperate about Iran as is the United States. The interest of Khomeinist Iran is not just to produce enough uranium for one nuclear device but to develop an entire nuclear arsenal. Iran is not interested in going back to JCPOA since it will inevitably be abrogated by the next Republican administration so why would they be interested in an interim agreement? Iran is not interested in any agreement whatsoever for the simple reason that it knows that any level of sanctions relief will not lead to increased foreign investments in Iran or raised permanent volumes of international trade with Iran since the international markets know that any sanctions relief will be strictly temporary and thus foreign actors will stay away from Iranian markets. So why would the Iranian regime be interested in sanctions relief when there would be no tangible economic benefits? Iran is quite understandably not interested in freezing its uranium enrichment program, effectively in return for nothing. The truth is that America has nothing to offer Iran since Biden cannot oblige his successor.

What is clear however is that the current tensions in Israeli-American relations will not dissipate until the JCPOA is finally dead and buried and that is reportedly only weeks away. There has rarely been a time when the stakes have been so high for Israel as an interim agreement would be absolutely calamitous for Israeli strategic interests regarding Iran. It is quite understandable that Israeli intelligence is on the edge as we see the very last weeks before the inevitable demise of the JCPOA.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization.

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