Archive for December 18, 2021

The Fantasies Of Iran, US & Europe At The Vienna Talks | MEMRI

December 18, 2021

Introduction

Following the renewal of the seventh round of nuclear talks in Vienna, it is becoming more and more clear that all the sides involved are living in a fantasy and that their delusions are gradually being exposed. All the sides are realizing that their hopes and expectations are indeed delusions, and their declarations in recent days attest to the fact that their positions are cut off from reality.

The following is an examination of both sides’ positions.

The American/European Side

The American/European Side Does Not Understand That There Is No Way Back To The 2015 JCPOA Agreement – It Has Been Stripped Of Content By Iran And Exists As A Mere Empty Framework

Although all that remains of the JCPOA is its formal framework, and it has been completely emptied of content by Iran through the latter’s violation of all of its aspects, the American/European side is acting as if Iran’s nuclear program can be brought back under the restrictions of the 2015 JCPOA.[1] According to a November 17, 2021 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report,[2] Iran is enriching uranium far beyond the 3.67% permitted in the JCPOA, to 60%. Its inventory of uranium exceeds the permitted 300 kg, with 2,489 kg of uranium enriched to a range of levels: 113.8 kg at 20%, 17.7 kg at 60%, 1,622 kg at 2%-5%, and 59 kg at 2%. It is using IR-4- and IR-6-generation centrifuge cascades, much more advanced than the first generation that it is allowed to use; and it is not cooperating with the IAEA, in violation of its commitment to do so. It is also not allowing inspections of its declared nuclear sites and refuses to allow inspections or even to answer questions about its undeclared nuclear sites that have been exposed. Additionally, it is not cooperating with the IAEA in the matter of its plutonium reactor at Arak.

It should be emphasized that no declaration by senior Iranian officials has expressed an Iranian commitment to return to the original 2015 JCPOA even if the U.S. lifts all the sanctions.

The U.S. Administration Has Come To Terms With Iran’s Extortion Of Funds As A Condition For Contacts With It

About a month before the negotiations began, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Abdollahian demanded that the Biden administration release at least $10 billion of frozen Iranian funds to prove the seriousness of its intentions.[3]


Iranian Foreign Minister Abdollahian (Source: ISNA, Iran, December 14, 2021)

The U.S. administration released $3.5 billion to the Iranian regime as a gesture of goodwill, in the hope that it would be received as a sign of its serious intentions.[4] Additionally, several days before the talks began, the administration extended the waiver on sanctions for Iraq regarding Iranian oil – a path that allows Iran to sell oil via Iraq – which was also received in the West as an American gesture to the Iranian regime.[5]

The regime mouthpiece, the Kayhan daily, tried to clarify that this was not a precondition, but that “from now on, the payment that must be paid by the American side is $10 billion for its meeting” with the Iranian side, “and this is in order to test the sincerity of their intentions.”[6]

Even After Years Of Negotiations, The U.S. Administration Does Not Understand The Fundamental Political Culture And Ideology Of The Iranian Regime In Its Attitude Towards The U.S.: America Is “The Great Satan”;  Iran Does Not Recognize It And Is Unwilling To Maintain A Public Relationship With It, And Will Not Accept A U.S. Return To Negotiations Before It Is Punished

The U.S. has been forced to agree to a preliminary discussion about the conditions for its reacceptance to the negotiations and to the JCPOA. On December 12, 2021, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, who also heads the Iranian negotiating team, clarified: “One of the central issues in this [round of] negotiations [in Vienna] is to determine the conditions required for the [return of] America to the agreement from which it withdrew and which it now seeks to rejoin. Accordingly, we cannot ignore this agreement [the JCPOA on which Iran says it has based the demands that it has submitted] and I think that our view was not and is not maximalat all.”[7]

Furthermore, the Biden administration saw Iran’s insistence on excluding the U.S. from the negotiating room as a meaningless whim, thinking that the real issues will be determined in the negotiations themselves. U.S. State Department Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley even reiterated, in a December 9, 2021 Al-Jazeera interview, the American administration’s proposal to Iran to hold direct negotiations “at any time and any place,”saying: “We’re prepared to meet with them face-to-face. We think it’s far superior to indirect negotiations.”[8]


Special Envoy Robert Malley (Source: Al-Jazeera, Qatar, December 9, 2021)

In his statements, Malley revealed the U.S. administration’s grave misunderstanding of how Iran perceives the U.S. position. “The Great Satan” is not a propaganda slogan, but a fundamental stance and an ideological foundation vis-à-vis the U.S., as expressed by the refusal of the government of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, like that of his predecessor Hassan Rohani, to conduct any public relationship with the U.S. One example from the past few days of this Iranian regime approach to the U.S. can be found in November 27, 2021 statements by Iranian Armed Forces spokesman Abu Al-Fadl Shekarchi: “The Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] did well to call America ‘the Great Satan.’ ‘The Great Satan’ is one thing, and there are also smaller Satans, such as England and France… Every so often they, with their satanic nature, lead America itself to perdition. In many cases, England has been the basis for America’s fall, because the American officials are extremely stupid. The Satans in England… are birds of prey… [But] there is no difference between England, France, and America.”[9]

It is now becoming clear to the Americans that the Iranians’ exclusion of them in the negotiations is an essential matter of principle demonstrating that the U.S. is to blame for the situation, and that therefore it must take the first step – the lifting of all sanctions and Iranian verification of this on the ground, a process that takes time. Only afterwards will the Iranians make any move at all.

The U.S. Does Not Understand That Iran Will Not Compromise On Its Positions

With the renewal of the second stage of the seventh round of talks, on December 7, 2021, it is now clear to the Americans that the Iranian regime is considering its position paper, which it submitted, as a final position that must be accepted, and that this position must be the final outcome of the negotiations. The Americans also thought that the seventh round of talks would begin at the same point as the sixth round ended, and that there would be no backtracking from what was concluded by the two sides in the six previous rounds. They are now realizing that the Iranian side is rejecting those conclusions and is beginning from a different point, arguing that its position paper is based on the 2015 JCPOA and therefore must be accepted in full.

Iran’s representative in the IAEA, Mohammad Reza Ghaibi, at a November 25, 2021 IAEA Board of Governors meeting, explained the Iranian regime’s position, according to which “Iran believes that the negotiations must be results-directed. It is, therefore, important that the outcome of these efforts will ensure that all sanctions will be lifted effectively and that this can be verified [by Iran].”[10] 

The American/European side had hoped that after the first round of negotiations with the Raisi government, the Iranians would more or less give up on their maximal demands as submitted in writing at the beginning of the seventh round of talks, and would present realistic positions for the opening of “serious” negotiations. But at a December 7, 2021 White House briefing, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan expressed his frustration at Iran’s uncompromising position: “The more Iran demonstrates a lack of seriousness at the negotiating table, the more unity there is among the P5+1 and the more they will be exposed as the isolated party in this negotiation. So really, the ball is in Iran’s court as to whether it wants to show up and demonstrate that it’s going to be serious or not.”[11]


National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (Source: CNN, August 18, 2021)

The Biden administration does not realize that its positive positions vis-à-vis Iran are completely unappreciated by the Iranian leadership – instead, they are perceived as weakness and as a basis for additional extortion.

In light of Iran’s rigidity, the Americans are now compelled to threaten with alternatives, even though they stress that their first preference is negotiations, and are examining cooperation with other countries – the three European countries in the negotiations, Britain, France, and Germany, and also with Israel.

The U.S. Does Not Understand Iran’s Refusal To Negotiate On Other Strategic Issues

The American position included a demand to discuss Iran’s ballistic missiles with a range of over 2,000 km, assuming that the Iranians realize that this must be part of the negotiations. But the Americans are now realizing that Iran’s refusal to discuss this issue is a matter of principle and that Iran will not back down on it.

The Iranian Side

Iran Does Not Understand That Its Positions Are Unrealistic And That The West Cannot Accept Them – And Thinks That It Can Force Them On The West

The new Iranian government, headed by President Ebrahim Raisi, believes that if it insists on its position that it will be able to force the West to lift all the American sanctions and that it will verify that this has been done before it makes any move whatsoever. It must be emphasized that Iran’s demand for all the sanctions to be lifted is in fact an expansion of the JCPOA framework; in the JCPOA it was concluded that only the nuclear sanctions would be lifted and that all the other sanctions on Iran, imposed by Congress for its violation of human rights and promotion of terrorism, would remain in place. This is because Iran refused to include these issues in the negotiations it conducted with the Obama administration, along with the issues of limits on the range of its ballistic missiles and its expansion in the region.

The Iranian regime thinks that its argument that Iran has met its obligations under the JCPOA will continue to be accepted, even though Iran has stripped all significance from the JCPOA, beginning in October 2019, in an orderly and proactive move. According to Iran’s position, the U.S. was the party that failed to meet its obligations, and therefore it is obliged to back down and make the first moves – that is, lift all the sanctions, have Iran verify that they have been lifted, and pay compensation to Iran for the suffering caused by President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA.  

Statements by Ali Bagheri-Kani, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and negotiating team head for the Vienna talks, demonstrate this position. He said on December 9, 2021: “[The solution] to these disputes over [the lifting of] the sanctions [depends on] serious intent and practical willingness on their part [i.e. the U.S.]. When this serious intent is actualized, we will be able to take steps to lift the sanctions. The lifting of the sanctions creates a serious opening for advancing the talks, particularly with regard to [Iran’s] nuclear operation [regarding a return to its commitments].”[12]


Deputy Foreign Minister Bagheri-Kani (Source: Tasnim, Iran, December 7, 2021)

Iranian Foreign Minister Abdollahian wrote in an article published on December 7, 2021 by the Russian newspaper Kommersant: “During the previous six rounds of talks, it became abundantly clear to the Iranian side that America is not paying attention to the fact that there is no way to revive the JCPOA without lifting all the illegal sanctions… I want to stress that the current window of talks will not remain open forever. America and the three European countries must understand this very well.”[13]

The Iranians believe that they are proving their seriousness in the negotiations by adhering to procedural matters: their arrival at the talks, their remaining in Vienna even when the other side departs for consultations, and, primarily, the submission of the position paper whose comprehensive demands they expect to be fully met due to this ostensible “seriousness.” They also announced that they are about to submit an additional document regarding the compensation that the U.S. must pay to Iran for the damage done to it.

President Ebrahim Raisi said at a December 11, 2021 conference for Iran’s ambassadors to neighboring countries: “The presentation of the text of Iran’s proposal at the negotiations proves to the sides in the negotiations that we are in serious negotiations and that if the other side is determined to lift the sanctions, the way to arrive at an agreement is smooth.”[14]


President Raisi (Source: Irdiplomacy.ir, April 16, 2017)

Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on the eve of the talks’ renewal, on December 6, 2021: “The Raisi government has announced its intention to negotiate by giving two plans to the Europeans. The ball is in Europe’s court, and the outcome must be the complete lifting of the sanctions, and this is the serious demand of the [Raisi] government. The Western sides have returned to their countries [for consultation]. Our demand is clear, and the European countries must compensate [Iran] for their inaction in light of their violation of the [JCPOA] agreement. We must examine how serious they are regarding their commitment, and we are willing to work with them if [they lift the sanctions]. Their commitment must be to lift all the sanctions.”[15] However, it is now becoming clear to the Iranians that neither the U.S. nor Europe are willing to consider their position, even as an opening position.

The Iranian Regime Does Not Understand The Biden Administration’s Positive Intentions

The Iranian desire for the Iranian regime to publicly humiliate the U.S. is preventing the regime from understanding that the Biden administration is trying any way it can, with genuine goodwill, to arrive at an understanding with it by maintaining the JCPOA in a way that will serve Iran’s interests.

The Iranian Regime Is Mistaken In Its Delusions About Its Military Power vs. The U.S.

The Iranian side is deluding itself that it is capable of deterring the U.S. with threats and military operations. Furthermore, the Iranian side truly believes that the U.S. has been deteriorating since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and that its retreat from Afghanistan is an additional manifestation of its weakness.[16] Recently, the Iranian regime staged an incident that it claimed had taken place in the Persian Gulf between forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the U.S. Navy, simulating a U.S. attempt to capture an Iranian oil tanker that was foiled by the IRGC. A four-minute video montage was released depicting the alleged clash; the video included narration and commentary by Iranian strategist Hassan Abbasi, claiming that America has been “dead” since the 1979 hostage crisis. It is superfluous to note that the Pentagon denied that such an incident had taken place.

To view the December 2, 2021 video of an alleged attack and Hassan Abbasi’s commentary on MEMRI TV, click here or below:

https://www.memri.org/player/clip/54617/780,440/1

It should also be noted that according to the Iranian regime, it dealt a successful blow against the U.S. Army in response to the assassination of IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who led Iran’s expansion in the region, with missiles fired at the Ain Al-Assad base in Iraq. This is despite the fact that the attack had been coordinated in advance with the Americans so that there would be no loss of American lives. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis report The Iran-U.S. Crisis, Part III: Iran’s January 2020 Strikes On U.S. Ayn Al-Asad Airbase – The Roars Of A Fearful Paper Tiger, November 10, 2021.

Assessment

It appears that in light of the profound discrepancies between the sides’ positions, and the Iranian regime’s unwillingness to negotiate directly with the U.S., Iran will continue to demand that the U.S. pay it for continued contact with it in the coming rounds of talks, in order to shore up its shaky economy. At the same time, it is continuing to threaten the U.S. and demand that all the American sanctions be lifted, including those put in place by Congress that the Biden administration is not authorized or able to lift.

It should be noted that the only restriction stressed by the Biden administration concerning Iran is Iran’s obligation never to gain nuclear weapons. Such a demand is ostensibly compatible with the Iranian regime’s proud promotion of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s alleged fatwa banning nuclear weapons.[17]

Based on the assumption that the Iranian regime is truly not interested in nuclear weapons, the sides should have found a common basis for future understandings. The not-insurmountable distance between these two positions should have led the sides to a common ground for understandings and agreement. But the fact is that neither side is even capable of conducting honest negotiations. This is for two reasons:

  1. The assumption that Iran does not seek nuclear weapons is wrong.
  2. The Iranian regime’s institutional ideological hostility towards the U.S., which it views as the leader of the world order that must step down from its role, does not allow its leaders to arrive at any agreement with the U.S. in which the latter does not fully surrender to the demands of the Iranian regime.

* A. Savyon is director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI.


[1] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis reports No. 1478, Despite The JCPOA, Iran Accelerates Its Nuclear Research And Development – While The U.S., After Leaving The JCPOA, In Fact Preserves It With Waivers For Member Countries Allowing Them To Help Iran Continue Civilian Nuclear Development, October 10, 2019; No. 1481, Even As UK, France Acknowledge That Iran Is Violating The JCPOA, The Trump Administration, After Ostensibly Withdrawing From It, Continues To Preserve It – By Means Of Its Waivers For Civilian Nuclear Cooperation With Iran, November 6, 2019.

[2] Iaea.org/sites/default/files/21/11/gov2021-51.pdf, November 17, 2021.

[3] Abdollahian said on Iranian TV on October 3, 2021: “Biden wants to get to the negotiating table… Therefore, we have told the other sides that our intentions are serious. We are people who negotiate, and we are people of action. You must know that the new Iranian government is one of action. Our people will not benefit from negotiations that will result in drinking coffee. Our people will benefit from negotiations in which all its economic interests are actualized in the framework of the nuclear agreement. [If] Biden’s intent is serious, he must demonstrate this, and serious intention means the release of at least $10 billion of [the Iranian regime’s] funds [that have been blocked in other countries].” Hamshahrionline.ir, October 3, 2021.

[4] Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh confirmed, on November 15, 2021, that $3.5 billion of Iran’s blocked funds had been released, and added that “Iran is acting for the release of more of its funds.” ISNA, Iran, November 15, 2021.

[5] Freebeacon.com/biden-administration/biden-admin-ignores-congressional-inquiries-into-iran-sanctions-relief. November 29, 2021.

[6] Kayhan (Iran), October 12, 2021.

[7] ISNA (Iran), December 12, 2021.

[8] Aljazeera.com/news/2021/12/9/us-privileging-path-of-diplomacy-with-iran-biden-envoy-says, December 9, 2021.

[9] ISNA (Iran), November 28, 2021.

[10] Tasnimnews.ir, November 25, 2021.

[11] Whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/press-briefings/2021/12/07/press-briefing-by-press-secretary-jen-psaki-and-national-security-advisor-jake-sullivan-december-7-2021.

[12] ISNA (Iran), December 9, 2021.

[13] Tasnimnews.ir, December 7, 2021.

[14] President.ir/fa/133255, December 11, 2021.

[15] Tasnimnews.ir, December 6, 2021..

[16] See for example November 27, 2021 statements by Iranian Armed Forces spokesman Abu Al-Fadl Shekarchi: “Forty-three years ago, America was at its peak materially, and every day that has passed since the Islamic Revolution, America has plummeted several hundred meters, and now it is near the bottom.” ISNA, Iran, November 28, 2021.

[17] For more on Khamenei’s nonexistent nuclear fatwa, see: MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 825, Renewed Iran-West Nuclear Talks – Part II: Tehran Attempts to Deceive U.S. President Obama, Sec’y of State Clinton With Nonexistent Anti-Nuclear Weapons Fatwa By Supreme Leader Khamenei, April 19, 2012; Special Dispatch No. 5406, Release Of Compilation Of Newest Fatwas By Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei – Without Alleged Fatwa About Nuclear Bomb, August 13, 2013; Special Dispatch No. 5461, President Obama Endorses The Lie About Khamenei’s ‘Fatwa’ Against Nuclear Arms, September 29, 2013; Inquiry & Analysis No.1022, The Official Iranian Version Regarding Khamenei’s Alleged Anti-Nuclear Weapons Fatwa Is A Lie, October 3, 2013; Special Dispatch No. 5574, Iranian President Hassan Rohani In Article In Saudi Daily: While Avoiding Confrontation And Hostility, We Shall Be Diligent In Pursuing Our Supreme Interests, December 23, 2013; Special Dispatch No. 5681, Prominent Iranian Analyst, Author, And Columnist Amir Taheri: Nobody Has Actually Seen Khamenei’s Anti-Nuclear Fatwa, Which Obama Often Quotes, March 17, 2014; Inquiry & Analysis No. 1080, U.S. Secretary Of State Kerry In New And Unprecedented Statement: ‘President Obama And I Are Both Extremely Welcoming And Grateful For The Fact That [Iranian] Supreme Leader [Khamenei] Has Issued A [Nonexistent] Fatwa’ Banning Nuclear Weapons, April 19, 2014; Special Dispatch No. 5881, Tehran Again Offers Khamenei’s Nonexistent Fatwa In Negotiations As A Guarantee That It Is Not Developing Nuclear Weapons, November 14, 2014; Inquiry & Analysis No.1151, Iranian Regime Continues Its Lies And Fabrications About Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Nonexistent Fatwa Banning Nuclear Weapons, April 6, 2015; MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1458, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif Reiterates Iran’s Lie, Promoted By Obama Administration, That Supreme Leader Khamenei Issued Fatwa Banning Nuclear Weapons; No Such Fatwa Ever Existed, May 31, 2019.

Iran’s nuclear breakout time now ‘really short’ — US official

December 18, 2021


Biden’s national security adviser says ‘we do not yet have a pathway back’ to nuke deal; 2nd official: Talks ‘better than it might have been’ and ‘worse than it should have been’

By TOI STAFF and AFPToday, 2:43 am  

In this image made from April 17, 2021, video released by the Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, state-run TV, various centrifuge machines line the hall damaged on April 11, 2021, at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, some 200 miles (322 km) south of the capital Tehran. (IRIB via AP, File)

Illustrative: In this image made from April 17, 2021, video released by the Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, state-run TV, various centrifuge machines line the hall at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, some 200 miles (322 km) south of the capital Tehran. (IRIB via AP, File)

The United States estimates the amount of time Iran needs to churn out enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb is now “very short,” a Biden administration official said Friday.

The official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, did not specify the exact length of time Iran needs to produce enough material for a nuclear weapon. Estimates have put the breakout time at several months.

“But it’s really short. It is unacceptably short,” the official was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The official also called the new assessment of the Islamic Republic’s breakout time “alarming.”

The remarks came as Western powers reported some progress in talks to save the landmark Iran nuclear deal, but European diplomats warned that they were “rapidly reaching the end of the road.”Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Editionby email and never miss our top storiesNewsletter email addressGET ITBy signing up, you agree to the terms

In a blow to European mediators, Iran requested a new pause in the talks in Vienna, which aim to bring the United States back into the 2015 agreement and roll back nuclear activities. The Islamic Republic publicly stepped up its nuclear projects after the US withdrawal from the deal.

The talks had just resumed in late November after a five-month break following the election of a new hardline government in Iran.People walk past Palais Coburg, where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, December 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Gruber)

Underlying Western concerns are fears that Iran will soon have made enough progress that the 2015 accord — under which it was promised economic relief in return for drastic curbs on its nuclear work — will be obsolete.

Enrique Mora, the EU official chairing the talks, called for a “sense of urgency” and for talks to resume before the end of the year.

“We are not talking anymore about months, we are talking about weeks,” Mora said.

Former US president Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018 and imposed sweeping sanctions including a unilateral US ban on Iran’s oil sales, vowing to bring the US adversary to its knees.

US President Joe Biden supports a return to the agreement negotiated by predecessor Barack Obama, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but has been frustrated by the pace of resurrection efforts.

“It’s not going well in the sense that we do not yet have a pathway back into the JCPOA,” Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, said of the talks.

“We are paying the wages of the disastrous decision to leave the deal back in 2018,” he said.

But Sullivan, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, said recent days “have brought some progress at the bargaining table.”US national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, December 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Another US official said the latest round was “better than it might have been” and “worse than it should have been.”

The official called for a “very significant acceleration” and said the US was ready to return before New Year’s.

“If it takes this much time to agree on a common agenda, imagine how much time it will take to resolve the issues on that agenda,” they said.

Russia, which along with China is also in the talks, said negotiators agreed to start from where they left off in June before Iran requested a break for its elections.

The latest round was “successful in a sense that it prepared sound basis for more intensive negotiations,” envoy Mikhail Ulyanov wrote on Twitter.

Tehran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri said there were “hard and intense negotiations” to agree on the “bases” for further talks which will take place “in the near future.”

The miracle of 48

December 18, 2021

And you could add: “Because Arabs can’t fight their way out of a paper bag”.

EXCLUSIVE: Mossad recruited top Iranian scientists to blow up key nuclear facility

December 18, 2021
Simpsons-nelson-ha-ha-93-p-672x480 ⋆ BYT // Brightest Young Things

A fascinating read.

90 per cent of the plant’s centrifuges were destroyed, putting the complex out of action for up to nine months

https://www.thejc.com/news/world/exclusive-mossad-recruited-top-iranian-scientists-to-blow-up-key-nuclear-facility-1.523163

articlemain

Mossad recruited a team of Iranian nuclear scientists to carry out a covert operation which blew up one of the regime’s most secure nuclear facilities earlier this year, the JC can reveal.

Up to 10 scientists were approached by Israeli agents and agreed to destroy the underground A1000 centrifuge hall at Natanz in April, though they believed that they were working for international dissident groups.

Some of the explosives they used were dropped into the compound by a drone and quietly collected by the scientists, while others were smuggled into the high security facility hidden in boxes of food on a catering lorry. The ensuing destruction caused chaos in the highest echelons of the Iranian leadership. It demolished 90 per cent of the centrifuges at the nuclear plant, delaying progress towards a bomb and putting the key complex out of action for up to nine months.

The new details are among astonishing secrets of three connected Mossad operations that took place over an 11-month period of sabotage in Iran. The first two, in July 2020 and April 2021, targeted the complex in Natanz using explosives, while he third, in June this year, took the form of a quadcopter assault on the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA), in the city of Karaj, 30 miles northwest of Tehran. The full details are published for the first time by the JC today.

Other revelations include:

  • Mossad spies hid explosives in building materials used to construct the Natanz centrifuge hall as long ago as 2019, then triggered them in 2020:
  • Agents sneaked an armed quadcopter, weighing the same as a motorbike, into Iran piece by piece, and used it to launch missiles at the TESA site in Karaj in June:
  • The three operations were planned together over an 18-month period by a team of 1,000 technicians, analysts and spies, as well as scores of agents on the ground:
  • The three-part assault on Iranian nuclear infrastructure was carried out by Mossad acting alone – known in Israeli intelligence circles as a ‘blue-and-white operation’ – and not jointly with the United States, dubbed ‘blue-white-and-red’.

It comes amid mounting anxiety that Tehran is cynically playing for time as it resumes negotiations in Vienna while pressing ahead with building a nuclear weapon.

In recent weeks, Israel has shared intelligence with Western allies suggesting that Iran is preparing to enrich uranium to 90 per cent purity, the level required to produce a nuclear bomb, Axios reported.

This raises the spectre of a major Israeli air assault on Tehran’s nuclear plants, should both negotiations and sabotage prove insufficient to halt the programme.

This week, the JC has reported that Israel is embarking on a new policy of launching covert attacks on Iranian soil in retaliation for its meddling in the region, meaning that further undercover operations are in the pipeline.

The team of scientists carried out the sabotage in April this year, while the nuclear negotiations with the West were underway in Vienna.

The measures were needed in order to access the underground A1000 centrifuge hall at Natanz, which housed up to 5,000 centrifuges and is protected from air assault by 40 feet of concrete and iron.

Hours after Iran declared that it had begun to use advanced IR-5 and IR-6 centrifuges at the site, in blatant breach of the 2015 nuclear deal, the bombs were remotely set off.

The blast destroyed the independent and highly secure internal power system that supplied the centrifuges.

It caused a power blackout in the heavily fortified complex.

“The scientists’ motivations were all different,” a source said. “Mossad found out what they deeply wanted in their lives and offered it to them.

“There was an inner circle of scientists who knew more about the operation, and an outer circle who helped out but had less information.”

After the explosion, the scientists responsible were spirited away to a safe location. The source added: “All of them are very safe today.”

Iran named a suspect – 43-year-old Reza Karimi – and claimed to have issued an Interpol ‘red notice’ for his arrest. So far he has not been found.

The explosion left a crater so large that one Iranian official fell into it while examining the damage, injuring his head, leg, arm and back.

Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, the head of the Iranian parliament’s energy committee, grudgingly acknowledged to Iranian state television after the attack that the plan was “rather beautiful”.

This was the second of a three-part Mossad operation targeting Iran’s ‘fissile material project’, which is the industrial process of enriching uranium to weapons-grade levels.

The first attack had come on 2 July 2020, with a mysterious explosion inside the Iran Centre for Advanced Centrifuges (ICAC) warehouse at Natanz, central Iran, a key hub in Tehran’s network of nuclear plants dotted around the country.

The orchestration of the blast was audacious. A year earlier, Israeli spies posing as construction wholesalers had sold Iranian officials building materials to be used in the centrifuge hall.

Unbeknownst to the Iranians, the materials had been filled with Mossad explosives. They were built into the hall and remained in place all year. Then, when the time was right, Israel’s spymasters had pushed the button.

Mossad’s brains behind this attack – whom we are not naming – also led a similar operation in the early Nineties, the JC has learnt, in which a desk filled with listening devices was sold to Mahmoud Abbas’ PLO office in Tunisia, providing the Israelis with a stream of audio intelligence.

“The Iranians have always known that Israel has infiltrated their supply chains, but they are powerless to do anything about it,” a source told the JC.

The warehouse had been used to precisely calibrate centrifuges, a vital part of a complex process of producing a nuclear weapon.

The blast caused major damage, destroying a significant quantity of hardware and dramatically degrading the country’s nuclear programme. According to Iranian reports, nobody was injured.

The third and final act in the three-part drama came in June this year. Mossad’s attention now turned to the production of the centrifuges themselves, in order to delay the replacement of the equipment it had damaged in the first two attacks.

Over the preceding weeks, an armed quadcopter drone, weighing the same as a motorcycle, had been smuggled into the country piece by piece by agents.

The target was the TESA complex in Karaj, the most important factory to build the centrifuges – including advanced centrifuges – for the enrichment plants.

On June 23, from a location 10 miles away from the TESA factory, a joint Iranian and Israeli team launched the drone, flew it towards the facility and fired, partly destroying it.

The drone was then piloted back to the team on the ground, who spirited it away to be used again.

The revelations underline Israel’s capacity for striking at the heart of the Iranian regime’s most secret and strongly fortified sites, bolstering the Jewish state’s insistence that if necessary, it will take unilateral military action to prevent the theocracy from achieving a bomb.

Richard Pater, Executive Director of Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (Bicom), said: “Unlike in the previous rounds of talks, Britain is currently holding the strongest line. This is very much appreciated by Israel, as there is a sense that the Americans are so desperate to return to the deal that they would be too soft.

“However, it is quite clear that Britain and the rest of the international community still sees negotiation as the most effective track to rein in Iranian ambitions.

“Israel is not convinced that this will be enough, and also doubt that more problematic partners, like Russia and China, will be able to hold same line.

“Therefore, the credibility of the threat from Israel needs to be enhanced, reiterated and reimposed, as part of a dual effort to put real pressure on Iranians.

“In terms of geopolitics, that is the message that these operations are sending to the international community.”

Israeli Military Leaders: Biden Nuclear Deal Poses ‘Significant Threat to Israel’s Security’

December 18, 2021

https://freebeacon.com/national-security/israeli-military-leaders-biden-nuclear-deal-poses-significant-threat-to-israels-security/

A group of nearly 3,000 Israeli military leaders, soldiers, commanders, and intelligence officials are warning the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress that a new nuclear deal with Iran poses “a significant threat to Israel’s security.”

These leaders, who organized under the umbrella group Israel’s Defense and Security Forum (IDSF), raise concerns that the United States will sign a deal that gives Iran the cash assets needed to fund terrorism and put it on a glide path to a nuclear weapon that will be used to destroy the Jewish state, according to a letter sent last week to Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) and senior Biden administration officials.

The 2015 nuclear accord “is fatally flawed and represents a significant threat to Israel’s security,” the Israeli leaders write, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. “Returning to this expired and flawed agreement would be a grave mistake.” Iran’s only goal, they say, is to create a “nuclear umbrella under which Tehran can dominate the region.”

The letter, sent on Dec. 9, comes as the Biden administration continues its diplomatic effort to secure a revamped nuclear deal with Iran, which would lift sanctions on the hardline regime and provide it with billions of dollars in cash assets. The Israeli government has expressed its fear about a new deal, but the IDSF letter outlines in the clearest terms to date what the Jewish state expects from the Biden administration if it follows through with negotiations. Concerns about a new deal have been growing as Iran boosts its enrichment of uranium, the central fuel for an atomic weapon, even as it participates in talks with the United States.

As the Biden administration considers inking a temporary deal that places fewer restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, the Israeli generals warn that this type of agreement “would fuel Iran’s already recovering economy and leave Israel in an unacceptably precarious situation.”

A so-called less-for-more deal removes “necessary pressure from the clerical regime and grant it valuable time to increase its resilience against future American economic pressure, continue skirting international inspections and oversight into their undeclared nuclear activities, and provide patient pathways to nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them.” Such an outcome, they say, is unacceptable.

The Israeli military leaders go on to outline seven areas in which Iran must be held accountable in order for any deal to be viewed as a success by Israel.

“A new agreement should include a much more comprehensive verification and supervision mechanism, including the ability to conduct inspections anywhere and anytime, a full resolution of the [International Atomic Energy Agency’s] outstanding questions about undeclared nuclear materials, sites, and activities, and the monitoring and questioning of scientists related to the Iranian nuclear program,” they write.

A new deal should prohibit Iran’s development of ballistic missiles, which the regime is building to deliver a nuclear payload over great distances. The original nuclear accord notably excluded restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, creating a loophole that critics viewed as a fatal flaw.

The United States should also push for the reimposition of all United Nations sanctions on Iran under a mechanism known as “snapback.” The Trump administration chose to invoke this failsafe mechanism, which was written into the original nuclear deal, but the Biden administration reversed the decision soon after taking office. The Israeli military leaders say these sanctions are critical to keeping the Iranian regime’s economy on the ropes.

Any new deal must also renew a longstanding arms embargo on Iran, which expired in October 2020 and has not been renewed. This has allowed Iran to purchase advanced military equipment from nations such as Russia and China, both of which oppose a renewal of the embargo.

The Israeli military leaders also are calling for terrorism sanctions on Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to be preserved under any new deal. Sanctions on the military group have prevented it from expanding its control of Iran’s nuclear-related industries. This would also include sanctions on Iran’s central bank, which funds terrorism and the country’s nuclear program.

“All sanctions for terrorism, missile proliferation, and human rights abuses must be maintained until there is demonstrable evidence that the malign activities underlying those sanctions has permanently ended,” the leaders write.