Israel and Saudi Arabia are pushing Donald Trump to launch “surgical strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes office, whose inauguration is due on January 20. The previous day, December 31, the pan-Arab newspaper Dar al-Hayat (headquartered in London) reported, citing its anonymous sources in Washington, that Israel and Saudi Arabia “are exerting strong pressure on Trump to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities with surgical strikes.”
Thus, the paper’s interlocutors note, the American leader leaving the White House soon, according to the Israelis and Saudis, should make it as difficult as possible for Joe Biden to return the United States to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Tehran’s nuclear program.
According to Dar al-Hayat, the United Arab Emirates is not involved in these efforts by Israel and Saudi Arabia to lobby for strikes against Iran, despite Abu Dhabi’s continuing uneasy relations with Tehran.
As EADaily reported, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Dec. 17 that he had “no doubt” that the new U.S. administration would return to the 2015 nuclear deal and lift crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy. His remarks came a day after the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, in fact also endorsed Tehran’s quick resumption of its commitments under the JCPOA if the US, in turn, lifts tough sanctions against the IRI.
Hassan Rouhani also made it clear at the time to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden that the Iranian leadership was ready to return to full compliance with all its obligations under the nuclear deal restricting Tehran’s nuclear energy activities in exchange for the lifting of international and unilateral sanctions if Washington abandoned its sanctions course against the IRI.
The day before, on December 31, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the United States of trying to “fabricate a pretext” to attack the Islamic Republic. The head of the Iranian diplomacy underlined that Teheran will defend itself even if it is not looking for war.
U.S. Air Force B-52 strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons flew in the Middle East, designed to show Iran’s strength and deter it from making “rash moves” in the region. Pentagon officials say this “military show of muscle” is meant to warn Tehran against attacking U.S. interests or personnel in the days leading up to the first anniversary of the killing of legendary Iranian General Qassem Suleimani in Jan. 3, 2020, U.S. airstrike at Baghdad International Airport.
Rising tensions in the Middle East ahead of the first anniversary of the assassination of Qods Special Forces Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qassem Suleimani have been registering in recent days. Washington is “prepared to respond” if Tehran launches an attack to mark the first anniversary of Suleimani’s assassination, Kenneth Mackenzie, head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM, area of responsibility includes the Middle East), said earlier this month.