On Monday, Sky News Arabia is reporting that the Biden White House has rebuffed Israeli requests to prepare concrete attack plans: "US rejects scenario for serious US military plan to strike Iran's military facilities," according to the report.
The outlet's sources indicated further that the "Israeli delegation that recently visited Washington accused the United States of making concessions to Iran during the Vienna talks without getting anything in return." And crucially, Sky News Arabia adds this to its reporting: "The Biden administration warned of the danger of Israel taking any unilateral military action against Iran."
Last week top Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and the new head of the Mossad, David Barnea, were in Washington where they met with top Biden administration officials to press them on taking a more muscular stand in the ongoing Vienna nuclear talks with Iran. Israel has continually threatened to "go it alone" on an Iran attack scenario should a 'bad deal' be reached.
The New York Times had cited several officials privy to the meetings who said the Israelis were pushing the White House to prepare military strike options in the event that negotiations fail. Moreover, Tel Aviv has pushed for Biden to halt dialogue altogether, arguing that Tehran is merely using the Vienna talks as cover to expand its nuclear weapons development capabilities.
But the Israeli side believes that there wasn't exactly a "veto" of their plans either:
Gantz updated American officials that he has set a deadline for when the IDF will need to complete preparations for an attack against Iran.
The Americans did not voice opposition to the Israeli preparations when presented with the date by Gantz on Thursday, a senior diplomatic source said the following day.
"There was no veto," the source said.
Just over a week ago, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told Antony Blinken that "Iran is engaged in nuclear blackmail as a negotiation tactic — this must lead to an immediate suspension of the talks in Vienna and to harsh retaliation steps by the world powers." US officials have continued to question Iran's "seriousness" - saying the US is running out of patience amid persistent Iranian efforts to get all Trump era sanctions dropped.
However, the White House is so far looking to stay the course, while there's also speculation that a 'partial deal' could be reached. The Israelis have condemned any such scenarios of a partial agreement being reached. While there's been widespread reports that the Pentagon has been preparing alternate 'plan B' scenarios, it increasingly looks like the US is not willing to take the extra step of greenlighting further Israeli sabotage and attack operations.
story that few are paying attention to: “American officials let out word this week that two months ago Mr. Biden asked …Jake Sullivan to review the Pentagon’s revised plan to take military action if the diplomatic effort collapsed.” https://t.co/5LUpdwC52c— curtmills (@CurtMills) December 12, 2021
It's believed that while in Washington, the Israeli delegation pushed to put in place precisely a definitive and muscular "Plan B" which will seek to use limited military action on Iranian assets in the Middle East region to force Tehran's hand at the negotiating table. The Times of Israel previously detailed:
According to the reports, which did not cite sources, Gantz and Barnea will urge their American interlocutors to develop a "Plan B" vis-a-vis Iran, seeing the stalled nuclear talks in Vienna as an opportunity to press the US to take a more aggressive stance toward the Islamic Republic.
Along with calling for tougher sanctions, the Israelis will reportedly ask the US to take military action against Iran.
Channel 12 news said the target of a US potential attack would be not a nuclear facility in Iran, but rather a site like an Iranian base in Yemen. The aim of such a strike would be to convince the Iranians to soften their positions at the negotiating table.
It seems the US side was likely content to use these reports as leverage with the Iranians in Vienna. But it further appears the Iranians have made little in the way of significant compromises on their repeated demand that all Trump-era sanctions must be dropped.