EXCLUSIVE As diplomacy stutters, US, Israel discuss drill scenario for Iran – US official – .

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EXCLUSIVE As diplomacy stutters, US, Israel discuss drill scenario for Iran – US official – .


WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (Reuters) – The US and Israeli defense chiefs are expected to discuss possible military exercises on Thursday that would prepare the worst-case scenario for the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities if diplomacy fails and the leaders of their countries are asking, a senior US official told Reuters.

Planned talks between the United States and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz follow an October 25 briefing by Pentagon leaders to White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on the options package military available to ensure that Iran would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon, the official said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons, saying it wants to harness nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

The previously unreported US-Israel preparations underscore Western concerns over difficult nuclear negotiations with Iran that President Joe Biden said would revive a 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by his predecessor Donald Trump.

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But US and EU officials have expressed dismay after discussions last week over the sweeping demands of the new hard-line Iranian government, heightening suspicions in the West that Iran is playing to buy time while pushing its nuclear program forward. .

The US official declined to provide details of potential military exercises.

“We are in this mess because Iran’s nuclear program is advancing to a point beyond which it has no conventional justification,” the official said, while still expressing hope for discussions.

The Israeli embassy in Washington and the Iranian mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The European Union official who chairs the talks said they would resume on Thursday, and the US special envoy to Iran plans to join them this weekend. Read more

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said last week that Iran had started the process of enriching uranium to 20% purity with a cascade, or group, of 166 machines. IR-6 advances at its Fordow plant, which dug into a mountain, making the attack more difficult.

The 2015 accord granted Iran sanctions relief but placed strict limits on its uranium enrichment activities, extending the time it would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, s ‘he wished, at least a year of about two to three months. Most nuclear experts say this period is now considerably shorter.

Highlighting how the deal is eroded, this pact does not allow Iran to enrich uranium at Fordow at all, let alone with advanced centrifuges.

COMPROMISE

With the deal’s nuclear benefits now in serious jeopardy, some Western officials say there is little time before the deal’s foundations are irreparably damaged.

Such exercises by the United States and Israel could respond to calls by Dennis Ross, a former senior United States official and Middle East expert, and others to openly signal to Tehran that the United States and Israel remain committed to l ‘prevent getting a nuclear weapon.

“Biden must disillusion Iran with the idea that Washington will not act militarily and prevent Israel from doing so,” Ross wrote last month.

Ross even suggested that perhaps the United States should signal its willingness to give the United States Army the United States Army’s Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a 30,000 pound bomb.

Asked about such remarks on deterrence, the senior US official said, “When President Biden says Iran is never going to get a nuclear weapon, I mean he thinks it. “

Central Intelligence Agency director Bill Burns said on Monday that the CIA does not believe Iran’s supreme leader has decided to take action to militarize a nuclear device, but noted progress in his ability to enrich uranium, a way to fissile material for a bomb.

Burns warned that even if Iran decided to go ahead, it would still take a lot of work to militarize this fissile material before attaching a nuclear weapon to a missile or other launching system.

“But they are more advanced in their mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle and it is also the kind of knowledge that is very difficult to sanction or eliminate,” he said.

U.S. officials have also long been concerned about the U.S. ability to detect and destroy the scattered components of Iran’s nuclear weapons program once enough fissile material for a bomb has been produced.

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Reporting by Phil Stewart; additional reporting from Arshad Mohammad and Matt Spetalnick; edited by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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