White House press secretary Jen Psaki has denied U.S. involvement in the [latest] attack [on Iran’s nuclear-fuel center at Natanz]. But since the United States and Israel jointly crafted Stuxnet, the 2010 covert program that sabotaged uranium enrichment at Natanz through highly sophisticated cyber attacks (a program that U.S. officials still don’t discuss openly a decade later), it’s not deeply paranoid for Iranian officials to assume that Washington was in on the plot.
This isn’t the first time that Netanyahu’s government has defied an American president’s wishes, or done so while embarrassing a senior U.S. official. In 2010, just hours after a visit to Israel by then-Vice President Biden, who pledged unyielding support for the country’s security, Israeli’s interior ministry announced 1,600 new housing units for Jews in East Jerusalem—breaking promises of a moratorium on new housing in the occupied territories. (Netanyahu claimed the interior minister acted on his own, but he did not reverse or in any way alter the policy.)*
Five year later, as Obama and the leaders of five other nations were about to finish negotiating the Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu fiercely spoke against the deal before a joint session of the U.S. Congress—an unprecedented breach of protocol, abetted by a Republican-controlled legislature. After Donald Trump was elected presdient, Netanyahu played a major role in persuading him to withdraw from the deal—against the unanimous advice of Trump’s senior advisers at the time, and against the advice that Netanyahu had received from senior Israeli military and intelligence officers.
Now that Netanyahu has lost his charmed access to the White House, he is seeking to sabotage the deal’s revival by undermining Iran’s confidence that it is worth reviving—that the Americans, even post-Trump, are serious about settling the issue through diplomacy rather than force. [Continue reading…]