Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday confirmed that negotiations with the United States on a revised Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, are going nowhere.
Khamenei accused the US of “stubbornness” and expressed outrage that Washington wanted to discuss Iran’s aggressive imperialist policies and ballistic missile program before a new agreement can be reached.
It was actually the first time that either party confirmed that a new, more comprehensive agreement would have to include clauses on these two extremely important issues for the West, and for Israel in particular.
Israeli political and military leaders have repeatedly called on the US to include Iran’s ballistic missile program and its imperialist activities in the Middle East in negotiations with the Islamic Republic.
Khamenei also made it clear that the outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani failed the nation when he signed the 2015 nuclear deal with the US and five other world powers.
“Others should have used our experiences. These experiences show the distrust in the West,” Khamenei said, adding that the West is not helping Iran, but wants to hurt the country in any way possible.
Rouhani was sitting in the room with his entire cabinet when Khamenei harshly criticized him. The Iranian president will resign next week and will be succeeded by Ebrahim Raisi, an extremist cleric and protégé of Khamenei. See: ANALYSIS: New Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Dangerous for Israel
Khamenei’s criticism of the US came a day after President Joe Biden’s administration harshly criticized Iran for misusing stalled prisoner-swap negotiations to sabotage attempts to reach a revised nuclear deal.
A spokesman for Biden called Iran’s stance a “shameful attempt” to blame the United States for the deadlock in the nuclear negotiations.
France accuses Iran
France, one of the countries that signed the JCPOA in 2015, stepped up pressure on Iran earlier this week, saying through spokeswoman Agnes Von Der Muhll that it was “urgent for Iran to return to the negotiating table.”
Von Der Muhll blamed Iran for the stalling of the new nuclear negotiations, saying that in its actions Iran continues to aggravate the nuclear situation.
“If it continues on this path, it would not only delay the conclusion of an agreement that provides for the lifting of sanctions, but it would jeopardize the ability to finalize negotiations in Vienna and restore the deal,” the French government spokeswoman said.
Report: Iran’s biggest threat to Israel
In Israel, the media is increasingly concerned with the issue of Iran, and this week gave much attention to a new report from the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). The annual report was an assessment of threats to Israel’s national security, especially the Iranian threat.
There is a feeling that nuclear talks with Iran will come to naught as Tehran is accumulating more vital knowledge and experience to produce nuclear weapons, according to INSS head Professor Manuel Trajtenberg.
He added that Iran has made significant progress in enriching uranium and also in the production of uranium metal, a raw material used only for the production of a nuclear weapon.
Trajtenberg called Iran the “most serious threat to Israel,” while the INSS report pointed to the fact that Iran is now enriching uranium to 60 percent. This means the Islamic Republic could quickly break out to the ability to produce a nuclear weapon, according to the think tank.
The INSS also warned of Iran’s far-reaching penetration into Syria and Lebanon, which is now on the brink of total collapse as a result of a severe political and economic crisis.
Iran now has “the capabilities to strike Israel directly in the heart,” according to the think tank, because it effectively controls Israel’s two northern borders.
Israeli and German criticism of US
The Jerusalem Post, Israel’s largest English-language newspaper, carried an editorial commentary on developments regarding Iran, accusing the US government of “taking the foot off the gas” at a time when it needed to increase pressure on Iran.
The editors of JPost also pointed out that there is currently great unrest in Iran, where a significant part of the population suffers from a major water shortage. In Tehran, protesters chanted slogans such as “death to the dictator (Khamenei)” and “not for Gaza, not for Lebanon but for Iran I am ready to give my life”.
The US response to these developments was “to take the foot off the gas,” the editors wrote.
The United States indeed remained silent about what is currently happening in Iran. Instead, the Biden Administration informed, through Rob Malley, the chief negotiator for talks with Iran, that the US had offered to lift sanctions as early as March. All the Biden Administration required of Iran was that the country returned to the original 2015 nuclear deal, according to Malley.
JPost also interviewed August Hanning, the former head of German intelligence, who said it is futile to negotiate a new agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. Hanning pointed to Iran’s missile program and said it was proof that Iran developed the ballistic missiles for carrying nuclear warheads.
The former head of German intelligence said he had always opposed the JCPOA and that at the time he worked closely with Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency. Hanning added that the Israeli intelligence services acted as a model for the German intelligence agencies.
Iran, meanwhile, said it had arrested a Mossad cell and seized “weapons.” According to authorities in Iran, the group of Mossad spies planned to unleash violence during the protests against the Khamenei regime and carried grenades, rifles and shotguns, among other things.
The group is said to have been arrested when it crossed an unnamed border of a neighboring country in western Iran.
Iran borders Turkey and Iraq to the west, but it could well be that the group came from Azerbaijan. This Muslim state maintains close contact with the Mossad and other Israeli security institutions.