Monday, 6th July , 2009 , 04:58 [am] | Azerbaijan
Israel seeks ‘Plan B’ if U.S.-Iran talks fail
Israel is urging the United States and other countries to start preparing now for the possibility that Washington’s proposed dialogue with Iran will fail, by readying a “Plan B” that includes “paralyzing sanctions” and other measures against Tehran.
The U.S. has resisted this idea so far.
The Israeli messages – sent against the background of the recent unrest in Iran – have been delivered to the White House, the State Department and senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community by senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry. Similar messages have been sent to senior officials in Germany, Russia, France and Japan.
Israel’s argument is that if the Americans are indeed committed to imposing “paralyzing sanctions” on Iran should the dialogue fail – as both U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have said in the past – the work of drafting these sanctions must begin now.
“Israel is adjusting its messages to the new circumstances created by the unrest in Iran,” a senior government official said. “These things must be stated clearly now so that there is no confusion about our position.”
Before the protests in Iran began, the official explained, Israel’s assessment was that the planned American-Iranian dialogue had little chance of succeeding. But in light of the protests, and the need of Iranian hard-liners to shore up their rule, Israel’s intelligence community believes the chances of the dialogue even beginning, much less succeeding, are near zero.
“In the situation that has arisen following the protests in Iran, there is much greater international readiness for harsh steps against the regime in Tehran,” the official noted.
However, Washington has so far rejected the “Plan B” idea.
American officials involved in the Iranian issue have told their Israeli counterparts that they are aware of the frustration in Israel, Europe and the Gulf states over Washington’s insistence on going ahead with the dialogue with Iran, and that they also do not believe the chances of success are high.
Nevertheless, they said, were the U.S. to start laying the groundwork for stiffer sanctions now, this would signal to the Iranians that Obama is not serious about dialogue with Tehran, which would foil any chances of success that the dialogue might have.
This exchange of messages has a positive side: The two countries have at least resumed serious conversation on the Iranian issue, after a hiatus of almost six months.
On the negative side, however, Israel’s concern about Washington’s lack of alternative plan should the dialogue fail remains unassuaged. Germany, Britain and France are all thought to share this concern.
Israeli officials dealing with the Iranian issue said cooperation with Germany, Britain and France has been very fruitful, and that the three European powers have been working with Israel to achieve two goals: getting the U.S. to assess the progress of the dialogue with Iran during the UN General Assembly meeting in September, rather than waiting another few months, and securing publication of the military appendix to the International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran due to be submitted in September.
Meanwhile, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said yesterday that Israel will decide for itself whether to attack Iran.
In an interview with ABC television, Biden said: “Israel can determine for itself – it’s a sovereign nation – what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else. Whether we agree or not. They’re entitled to do that. Any sovereign nation is entitled to do that.”
Biden insisted that pressure from Israel or other countries would not affect American’s planned dialogue with Iran. “There is no pressure from any nation that is going to alter our behavior as to how to proceed,” he said, adding that Washington believes this dialogue serves America’s interests, as well as those of Israel and the rest of the world.
But “if the Netanyahu government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that,” he continued. “That is not our choice.”
The U.S., he stressed, “cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do.”haaretz, Voice of a Nation