Yossi Cohen, the Mossad chief and wonder-worker who is straight out of Central Casting, has a list of issues he would like to raise with the Biden Administration as it considers whether, when, and exactly with what undertakings by Iran, it will rejoin the JCPOA nuclear deal. The visit, and what will be discussed, is laid out here.
There is one noticeable absence in that list (which was discussed in a post here). Apparently Yossi Cohen is not going to bring up the matter of Iran’s work on ballistic missiles. Is this because Cohen wants to concentrate on more immediate issues – Iran’s nuclear project, and its support for, and participation in, terror attacks on Israel? Those ballistic missiles pose a real threat only if they have nuclear warheads; if Iran’s nuclear program can be halted, those ballistic missiles are by themselves a manageable threat. They are most likely to be used against Saudi oil installations. Unlike Israel, the Saudis cannot deliver a crippling blow in response. Yossi Cohen is putting first things first. A willingness to hold back on raising the matter of the missiles now may also be tactical. Given that there is some indication that Biden has already made up his mind that the ballistic missiles should be dealt with not in the renewed nuclear deal, but as the subject of a separate agreement, why create an argument with the Americans, by insisting otherwise, when other more important things are at stake?
Cohen has led the Mossad for the past five years, including overseeing the Mossad operation that smuggled a trove of material from a warehouse in Tehran documenting the regime’s rogue nuclear program, which was in place before the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers went into effect. Netanyahu revealed the haul in April 2018, and declared that it proved “Iran lied” when enying it was working toward the bomb….
Congratulating Biden on taking office on Wednesday, Netanyahu urged the new US president to work with Israel to confront “the threat posed by Iran.”
Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said at a confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the administration would consult with Israel and other allies before a return to the 2015 deal.
Blinken’s assurance that Israel, and “other allies” (the Gulf Arab states) would be consulted before there will be any return to the 2015 nuclear deal is a very great relief. There had been some fears that Biden might simply have lifted the sanctions and rejoined the deal without any modification. Yossi Cohen is the first, and most important, foreign leader the Biden administration is consulting. He is, according to all reports, deeply informed about Iran’s deceptions, well organized, able to summon from memory a library of details, soft-spoken, and impressively articulate. He is fluent in English, French, and Arabic. He is an eighth-generation Jerusalemite. He is a marathon runner and an ex-paratrooper. He has long experience in running agents around the world. He has the nickname “the Model,” a reference to his looks, his clothes, his elegant bearing. These things count. He has been focusing laser-like on Iran and its miching mallecho for at least a decade, which has prepared him to make a convincing case to Biden for modifying the JCPOA treaty in important ways, before lifting sanctions on Iran.
There is one more matter that Cohen is apparently not going to raise when he meets with Biden. Or perhaps he will, but it is not being publicly revealed. That is the question of the sale of 50 F-35 Stealth fighter jets to the U.A.E., and what must be done, in light of that sale, to preserve Israel’s QME (Qualitative Military Edge). Such a conversation needs to be kept under wraps, but let’s hope it does take place, and that the weapon most needful for the Israelis, the only one that can reassure them that they will, if all else fails, be able to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, will be discussed and a sale to Israel be approved. The Jewish state needs a number of Massive Ordnance Penetrators, or MOPs, colloquially known as bunker-busters, the only bombs capable of destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities that have recently been built inside a mountain at Fordow. Cohen will no doubt be prepared – should a suitable occasion arise during his talks — to bring up that matter of Israel’s QME, and the best way to preserve it in the light of Iran’s ongoing nuclear threat. For this latest mission to Washington, Yossi Cohen is exactly right.
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