Israel’s ‘shadow war’ and plans to scupper Iran’s nuclear deal

US President Joe Biden is pushing to reinstate Iran’s nuclear deal and weeks of talks in Austria appear to be bearing fruit.

Israel, however, continues to see its security jeopardised by a potentially nuclear Iran and is trying to thwart negotiations any way possible.

The Mossad spy agency chief Yossi Cohen – a close confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – met Biden on Friday and, according to one media report, pressed the US president not to sign back on to the nuclear accord unless “improvements” were made.

An unnamed senior Israeli official is quoted as saying Biden responded that the United States “is not close” to returning to the Iran deal, Axios reported.

Israel’s opposition to the nuclear agreement seems to go beyond words, however, with Iran accusing it of assassinating its top nuclear scientist and sabotaging its main nuclear facility Natanz in a series of attacks. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement.

Benny Gantz, Israel’s defence minister, said in March his country has drawn up plans to strike Iranian targets if Tehran continues its nuclear escalation.

Simon Mabon, a professor of international politics at Lancaster University, told Al Jazeera that within Israel, and particularly in the government, hawkish elements will continue to play a leading role moving forward on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

“Those supporting Netanyahu’s view of the Iranian regime are steadfast in their view that the Islamic Republic cannot be deterred through conventional forms of deterrence and a military strike is needed,” said Mabon.

‘Considerable damage’

Yaniv Voller, senior lecturer in Middle East politics at the University of Kent, said Israel’s efforts against Iran’s nuclear programme – often described as “the shadow war” – are likely to continue given the positive events in Vienna after Tehran’s recent negotiations with world powers on the nuclear accord.

However, Voller said a hot war remains unlikely despite Israel’s best efforts.

“I do not think the shadow war will turn into a full-blown conflict between Israel and Iran. A greater risk is a local conflict between Israel and Iran’s proxies in the region, particularly Hezbollah,” Voller told Al Jazeera.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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