By Con Coughlin, Gatestone Institute—
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s observation that Iran is engaging in “nuclear blackmail” with Western negotiators provides a damning indictment of the current state of play regarding the negotiations being held in Vienna on Tehran’s nuclear activities.
With Western intelligence agencies warning that Iran could be just weeks away from producing the weapons grade uranium required to build nuclear warheads, there is mounting concern over progress being made at the Vienna talks, which are trying to revive the flawed 2015 deal agreed by the Obama administration.
Instead of taking the negotiations seriously, however, Western negotiators — including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken — have expressed frustration that Iran is using the talks as a delaying tactic while it continues work on its uranium enrichment activities, which have now moved well beyond the level originally agreed upon in the 2015 deal.
This contingency has prompted Mr Lapid to call on the West to develop a “credible” military threat to deal with Tehran if the talks end without a satisfactory resolution.
Speaking exclusively in an interview this author conducted with the Israeli Foreign Minister for The Daily Telegraph in late December, Mr Lapid declared that such measures were necessary if Tehran was to be prevented from acquiring a nuclear weapons arsenal.
“If the Iranians think the world does not seriously intend to stop them, they will race towards the bomb,” said Mr Lapid. “We must make it clear that the world will not allow this to happen. There needs to be a credible military threat on the table.”
Mr Lapid, a former journalist who was also appointed Israel’s alternate prime minister when he was appointed foreign minister by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett earlier this year, said it was vital the West developed “a plan for Iran’s continued intransigence and advancing of its nuclear program.”
Mr Lapid’s calls have been echoed by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan who, following talks with Mr Bennett in Jerusalem, called for world powers to adopt a “common strategy” for dealing with Iran.
Mr Lapid’s concerns about Iran’s approach to the Vienna talks are supported by Western security officials closely monitoring the negotiations, who state that, far from taking a constructive approach to the negotiations, the Iranians are simply playing for time. Continue reading….