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Gantz visit coincides with escalation in US pressure on Iran

A report about the United States toughening its stance against Iran was exactly what Defense Minister Benny Gantz was hoping for on his Washington visit.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz meets with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Dec. 9, 2021, Washington (Pentagon).

This week’s visit to Washington by Defense Minister Benny Gantz signaled an escalation in the US approach toward negotiations with Iran. The administration, in fact, used Gantz’s visit as a threat tactic to warn Iran that its nuclear program would not be immune from attack forever. Although he knew he was being used, Gantz himself was very pleased in the evening hours of Dec. 9 when he ended his meetings with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other top officials. As far as Israel was concerned, the visit had been successful.

Gantz landed in Washington on Dec. 8 at a dramatic moment in the Vienna talks between world powers and Iran, following a first, failed round and the efforts being made to resume them. While in Washington, Gantz was informed that the renewed meeting between the sides on Dec. 9 had also ended inconclusively. The Iranians, it seems, had not come to Vienna to give, only to receive. The real drama, however, was taking place in Washington where an unidentified top US official was telling Reuters ahead of Gantz’s arrival that the two defense chiefs “would discuss possible military exercises that would prepare for a worst-case scenario to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities should diplomacy fail.”

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