Iran acts with impunity ahead of nuclear talks - editorial

Iran has continued to act like it is the one that will decide on the nuclear deal timeline, regularly transmitting a message that it has the upper hand in any dealings with the West.

 Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building in Vienna (photo credit: REUTERS/LISI NIESNER/FILE PHOTO)
Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building in Vienna
(photo credit: REUTERS/LISI NIESNER/FILE PHOTO)

Iran has announced that it will resume talks with the world superpowers in Vienna on November 29. The talks are aimed at either reviving or recreating elements of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that Tehran signed with the P5+1.

Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Baqeri Kani said the talks will be attended by officials from the US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany. US State Department Spokesman Ned Price said that a deal could be reached if Iran’s representatives were “serious.”

This comes amid Iranian claims this week that it had stopped the US from “piracy” involving a tanker. Iran’s regime media broadcast images of its IRGC forces boarding a ship using a helicopter. Although the US has disputed Tehran’s claims, American Navy destroyers were sent to monitor an incident in which a Vietnam-flagged vessel was apparently seized by the Islamic Republic.

Iran has continued to act like it is the one that will decide on the nuclear deal timeline, regularly transmitting a message that it has the upper hand in any dealings with the West.

“The White House calls for negotiations with Iran... Yet it simultaneously imposes new sanctions on Iranian individuals & entities,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian tweeted on Tuesday, adding that Iran is “closely examining Mr. Biden’s behavior.”

DELEGATES WAIT for the start of talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, in Vienna, Austria, last month. (credit: EU DELEGATION IN VIENNA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)DELEGATES WAIT for the start of talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, in Vienna, Austria, last month. (credit: EU DELEGATION IN VIENNA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

It is not entirely clear if Iran will return to the 2015 deal, but it appears it will want to set new standards and squeeze new concessions out of the P5+1, rejoining only if its terms are met.

This leaves the prospect of giving a green light to an Iran that will feel even more empowered than in the past. Tehran has continued its lawless and illegal behavior in the region despite signing the 2015 JCPOA. No other country in the world behaves with the impunity that Iran appears to have.

In July, it used drones to kill two crew members on a tanker in the Gulf of Oman. Last month, it carried out a drone attack on the Tanf garrison of US forces in Syria.

If Iran were only spreading chaos across four countries in the region, that would be bad enough. But it also traffics in rockets, ballistic missiles, drones and precision guided munitions from Iraq and Syria to Lebanon. Israel’s drill this week to prepare for a possible war is evidence of the danger Iran poses and how we must continue to always be on our guard against this vicious and dangerous regime.

Iran’s ongoing plan is to keep the ball in our court and force Israel into action, constantly threatening Jerusalem either from Yemen or Syria, Iraq or Lebanon. Meanwhile, the Jewish state is working closely with countries such as India, Greece, France, Germany, the US and the UK on joint drills such as Blue Flag and a recent drill with US Marines near Eilat.

There needs to be a show of unity against Iran: That was the message Prime Minister Naftali Bennett transmitted this week during talks at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. 

As the Post’s Lahav Harkov reported, Bennett stressed – during meetings with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, French President Emmanuel Macron, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez – the idea that countries having bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic need to take a stronger stance to pressure its new government.

Likewise, Iran must not become a wedge issue between the US and Israel. Recent talks Bennett had with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, as well as talks between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and his US counterpart Lloyd Austin, are crucial in keeping the two countries on the same page regarding Iran.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has signaled that it will listen to Gulf partners regarding concerns about the Islamic Republic. This is in contrast to the Obama administration, which appeared to sideline Israel and other Middle East partners and allies during the lead-up to the 2015 deal.

That’s an encouraging development, as talks with Iran appear to be on track to resumption. Israel can’t derail them – but it can do its utmost to ensure that the countries involved are well aware of the dangers.