US Says Nuclear Talks Will Continue As Iran Warns The 'Great Satan'
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has refused to say whether Iran is involved in the flareup of violence between Israel and the Palestinians at a joint news conference with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne. Blinken also reiterated that talks with Iran in Vienna aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal will continue, despite recent calls by Republican Senators to disengage in response to the rocket barrages against Israel.
The firing of hundreds of rockets and missiles by armed Palestinian groups at Israeli population centers has strengthened calls not to make a deal with Iran, which is supplying funds and is suspected of transferring missiles and missile technology to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant groups in Gaza.
More than 40 Republican Senators have demanded the Biden administration "immediately" end participation in nuclear talks in Vienna over reviving the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) and commit to continue all current sanctions against Tehran as a "longtime financial and material supporter of Hamas."
Asked what evidence the US sees of Iranian involvement in the attacks on Israel, Blinken said, “I don’t have anything to offer on whether there is Iranian involvement or not in what’s taking place.” But he added that “the malign activities that Iran may or may not be engaged in, whether it is support for terrorism, whether it’s efforts to destabilize other countries, whether it is other actions that we find objectionable, that only underscores the importance of doing everything we can to make sure that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. “
But this leaves the question of Iran’s intentions and trustworthiness unanswered, which is what the opponents of making new deals with Tehran raise as objection to the Biden Administration policy of reducing sanctions pressure.
If the Islamic Republic has armed militant groups in Gaza and allows them to target Israel’s civilian areas, then any lessening of pressure by the United States will allow Tehran to wreck more havoc in the region, critics say.
“The United States engaging in active negotiations with Iran and potentially providing billions of dollars in sanctions relief will no doubt contribute to Iran’s support of Hamas and other terrorist organizations who attack Americans and our allies," more than 40 Republican Senators wrote to the administration this week.
The Chief of Iran’s general staff, General Mohammad Bagheri Friday issued yet another harsh statement, threatening to turn Israel into “ashes”, as reported by the Tasnim news agency close to the Revolutionary Guard, the IRGC. Bagheri said that the future will bring “a cleansing of the holy land from…murderous Zionists,” a term Islamic Republic officials use to mean Israel.
But the IRGC general went much further warning the “Great Satan”, as the United States is sometimes referred to by officials. “We warn the Zionist regime and its supporters…especially the Great Satan and the terrorist regime of America that the Islamic Resistance Front…will turn the existence [of Zionists in the region] to a heap of ash”.
Israel has expressed growing concern over improved capabilities of Hamas’ military wing, Izz al-din al-Qassam brigade, which has improved training and developed weapons factories utilizing scrap metal to make rockets. Iran has reportedly supplied Fajr and Chinese R160 missiles, and according to the Times of Israel Tehran is increasing aid to Hamas to $30 million a month.