CIA chief William Burns arrived in Israel on his first visit since taking office. One of the main topics of his talks in Jerusalem is the policy towards Iran, which, both in the United States and in Israel, continues to be considered a threat to stability in the Middle East. At the same time, Washington still hopes to find a common language with Tehran on the Iranian nuclear program and hopes to resume negotiations on this topic in Vienna in the near future. It is noteworthy that while Mr. Burns was flying to Israel, representatives of the Israeli Security Council discussed the Iranian topic in Moscow.
For the first time since taking office, CIA Director William Burns flew to Israel on Tuesday. His program includes meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, as well as the new director of Mossad, David Barnea, who took office in early June. Mr. Burns also plans a trip to Ramallah and a meeting with the Palestinian leadership, but his main goal, as reported by the Israeli media, is to discuss with the Israeli interlocutors the situation around Iran in recent days. The Israelis blame Tehran for attacks on ships in the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, owned or operated by Israeli companies.
The last such attack took place off the coast of Oman in late July. As a result of the attackBritish and Romanian nationals were killed on the Mercer Street tanker. Personal responsibility for the incident in Israel is assigned to the commander of the UAV unit of the Air Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Said Aru Jani. According to the latest information, Iranian drones were launched from the territory of Yemen. The European Union and the United States fully agree with the Israeli assessment of events. On Monday, this idea was once again announced by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken – this happened during the UN Security Council meeting on maritime security. “We are confident that Iran carried out this unjustified attack, which is part of a series of attacks and other provocative actions,” he said. Mr. Blinken called on the international community to bring those responsible to justice. “Failure to do so will only increase their sense of impunity and encourage others,” he added. Iran does not admit its guilt.
According to the Iranian ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali, the story of the attack on the Mercer Street tanker was “artificially created by Westerners and Zionists.” Speaking at a meeting with experts organized by the Gorchakov Foundation, he noted that with such statements the West is trying to create “a certain atmosphere around Iran during the formation of the new government.”
New Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a spokesman for the conservative camp, took office last week and went straight to the selection of ministers. The moment when the new government takes up its duties is expected not only in Iran. The international community hopes that Tehran will now be ready to resume negotiations in Vienna on the return of Iran and the United States to the nuclear deal.
This is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed in 2015. Tehran’s agreements with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany assumed the lifting of sanctions on Iran in exchange for limiting its nuclear program. In 2018, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the JCPOA, and a year later, Iran, without waiting for the launch of a mechanism that would allow it to cooperate with the EU bypassing US sanctions, began to gradually abandon its obligations under the nuclear deal. De facto, the JCPOA is almost not working at the moment. After joining the White House, President Joe Biden, the United States wanted to return to the JCPOA, seeing that the pressure of sanctions did not prevent the Iranians from developing their nuclear program. Indirect negotiations on this topic began in Vienna in the spring, but the parties failed to come to anything before the change of presidents in Iran.
The consultations are expected to resume in September, as soon as the new Iranian authorities become aware of the matter. At the same time, the United States began to fear that now it will not be easy to persuade Tehran to return to the JCPOA. however, the parties failed to come to anything before the change of presidents in Iran. The consultations are expected to resume in September, as soon as the new Iranian authorities become aware of the matter. At the same time, the United States began to fear that now it will not be easy to persuade Tehran to return to the JCPOA. however, the parties failed to come to anything before the change of presidents in Iran. The consultations are expected to resume in September, as soon as the new Iranian authorities become aware of the matter. At the same time, the United States began to fear that now it will not be easy to persuade Tehran to return to the JCPOA.
According to Bloomberg, the Biden administration suggests that the restoration of the JCPOA may not be realistic, and therefore the United States is considering various options. Among them is an interim step towards a limited relaxation of anti-Iranian sanctions in exchange for an agreement to freeze most of the uranium enrichment work in Iran.
However, the question is whether Tehran will agree with this approach. There, they insisted on the complete lifting of sanctions before, and after the change of the reformist president to the conservative, there are no hopes for Tehran’s greater pliability. “Sanctions against the Iranian people must be lifted, we support any diplomatic mechanism that will implement this,” Ebrahim Raisi said during the inauguration ceremony. In turn, Washington said that they are waiting for the approach taken in Iran. “Our message to President Raisi is the same as the message to his predecessors. It is very simple: the United States will defend and advance the interests of its national security and our partners.”
Despite skepticism, the US still hopes to at least resume negotiations in Vienna. This is evidenced by the publication of the newspaper of the Saudi newspaper “Al-Sharq al-Awsat”. Last week, the publication reported that Washington asked the Israelis not to attack the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah after its attacks on Israeli territory. The US is said to fear that the war in Lebanon could derail the Vienna talks.
Israel is discussing the situation around Iran not only with the United States. On Tuesday in Moscow, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev met with the new head of the Israeli National Security Council, Eyal Khulata, and his predecessor, Meir Ben-Shabbat. Mr. Khulata takes office on 15 August. The trip is an introductory trip, last week both Israelis also visited Cairo. The new head of the Israeli Security Council also visited Washington. According to the Security Council of the Russian Federation, the interlocutors exchanged views on the situation in the Middle East and the settlement of a number of regional conflicts, and Nikolai Patrushev “expressed hope for the continuation of continuity in Russian-Israeli contacts in the field of security.”
Israel does not stop hoping that Russia will at least partially accept his point of view on Iran, but Moscow, at least in words, remains in its position and maintains close contacts with Tehran.
In early August, Israeli media vigorously discussed Moscow’s alleged intention to limit the freedom of action of the Israeli air force in the Syrian sky. The reason for these speculations was the statements of the Deputy Head of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of Warring Parties in Syria Rear Admiral Vadim Kulit that the Syrian air defenses shot down Israeli missiles using Russian-made Buk-M2E complexes. Then the newspaper “Al-Sharq al-Awsat” cited the words of an anonymous Russian source, who argued that Russia does not intend to abide by the agreements with Israel, concluded under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
For their part, knowledgeable Israeli sources of Kommersant note that the mechanism of deconflicting between Russia and Israel continues to work as before. Moreover, they praised the actions of the Russian army in Syria, especially its recent attempts to prevent the cleansing of the Daraa province. Israel believes that the Russian policy of reconciliation in southern Syria has a positive effect on security in the region, as it prevents the Iranians from gaining a foothold there.