On June 18, Iran will hold presidential elections. President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will both leave office. All of the current viable candidates hail from the Revolutionary Guards Corps and they can all be guaranteed to abandon the JCPOA. So at best, the JCPOA’s remaining shelf life is four months.
Biden, Blinken, Sullivan, Malley and their colleagues all must be aware that this is the case. The fact that they are moving ahead with their failed strategy all the same indicates that they are ideologically committed to their plan and will stay with it even as it drives the region to war.
This brings us to Israel. During the Trump years, Israel and the US were fully coordinated in their joint and separate actions to undermine Iran’s nuclear program and its operations in Syria and Iraq. As a senior official in Trump’s National Security Council explained recently, “Working together the intelligence agencies of both countries were able to accomplish more than they could on their own.”
Obviously, those days are over now. And as Biden’s team makes its presence felt fully, Israel’s options for blocking Iran from becoming a nuclear power are diminishing.
When IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi announced last month that he had ordered the relevant IDF commanders to prepare operational plans to strike Iran’s nuclear installations, most commentators assumed his target audience was the Iranian regime. Others argued he was issuing a warning to the Biden administration. The former claimed he sought to force Iran back from the nuclear brink. The latter argued he was demanding the Biden administration take Israel’s positions seriously before it moves ahead with abrogating the sanctions.
But in the face of the Biden team’s strategic fanaticism and Iran’s race to the nuclear finishing line, it’s at least equally likely that Kochavi’s intended audiences were neither the Iranians nor the Americans. Instead, he may well have been telling the Israeli public to be prepared for what is coming. And he may also have been telling Israel’s regional partners that the time for joint action is now.
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