Biden Is on the Spot Over Iran as Netanyahu Readies His Third Term

The ayatollahs bid for an A-bomb will be the highest priority for Israel’s next government.

Via Wikimedia Commons
Prime Minister Netanyahu addressing Congress on March 3, 2015. Via Wikimedia Commons

President Biden will need to start making some hard choices when it comes to his failed Iran policy. Israeli sources close to the prime minister-elect, Benjamin Netanyahu, tell me that Iran’s nuclear program will be the highest priority for the next Israeli government. This means that Mr. Biden’s policy drift on Iran could force an uncomfortable clash between the two leaders. 

A senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and the foreign policy adviser to Mr. Netanyahu the last time he was prime minister, Jonathan Schachter, said in an interview, “Now with the midterms behind us, more than anything the administration’s approach toward Iran’s nuclear program will set the tone for relations between the Biden administration and the next Israeli government.”  

This can’t be a surprise to Mr. Biden. Mr. Schachter pointed out that Mr. Netanyahu’s views on the Iran nuclear program have been consistent with the last two prime ministers since he was last in power. They oppose a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and they have all “made clear that Israel will not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.”

The difference is that as statesmen, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett were, in their brief stints in the top job, newcomers on the world stage. Mr. Netanyahu is the longest-serving prime minister in the Jewish state’s history. In that position, Mr. Netanyahu proved an effective foil against President Obama’s signature foreign policy agreement, the 2015 nuclear deal.

Mr. Netanyahu not only openly lobbied Congress to oppose a quasi-ratification of the agreement in 2015, he also pressed President Trump to make good on his campaign promise and withdraw America from the bargain altogether. Mr. Biden pledged that if Iran came back into compliance with the accord, he’d return America to Mr. Obama’s nuclear bargain.

That policy has failed. For more than a year and a half, the Biden administration has signaled that its patience with Iran is not infinite. Yet Mr. Biden has not yet foreclosed the possibility of a return to the deal. All the while, Iran has enriched more uranium to weapons-grade levels and stymied UN weapons inspectors. Mr. Netanyahu’s request of Mr. Biden is not a mystery.

In July, as leader of the opposition in Israel, Mr. Netanyahu met with Mr. Biden and urged him to develop a “credible offensive military option.” Yet the Biden administration has only gone so far as to say that all options remain on the table with regard to Iran’s nuclear program. In the last week, though, the president has signaled that he may be willing to pursue a bolder approach to Iran.

On November 4, at a political rally at San Diego, Mr. Biden said, “Don’t worry, we’re gonna free Iran. They’re gonna free themselves pretty soon.” The National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby, told reporters that Mr. Biden was “expressing solidarity” with Iranians who, since a Kurdish Iranian woman was killed in custody for wearing a loose hijab, have been staging a national uprising.

The president’s comments on Iran could be similar to his remarks in September that Taiwan will make its own decisions on its independence from mainland China. It remains unclear whether this was announcing a new policy or just another gaffe from the commander-in-chief. Such ambiguity would be no substitute for the hard work of an alternative to Mr. Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal.

Mr. Netanyahu has already made clear that he wants Israel’s most important ally to develop a plan to deter militarily Iran from inching toward a nuclear weapon. Absent such assurance, well, Israel has already proven it has the means to hack Iran’s enrichment facilities, kill its scientists, and steal its atomic blueprints — without American assistance.  

The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use