Israeli minister warns of Iran war if Biden pursues nuclear deal

Israeli minister warns of Iran war if Biden pursues nuclear deal
Israel Settlements Minister Tzachi Hanegbi warned that Biden's stance on the 2015 nuclear deal could reignite tensions between Israel and Iran.
3 min read
05 November, 2020
Settlements Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (L) sees the nuclear deal as 'mistaken' [AFP/Getty]
Israel's settlements minister claims that an election win for Democratic contender Joe Biden could lead to war between Israel and Iran.

Minister Tzachi Hanegbi warned on Wednesday that Biden's stance on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly called the Iranian nuclear deal, could reignite tensions between the two rivals.

"Biden has said openly for a long time that he will go back to the nuclear agreement," Hanegbi said in comments shared by The Jerusalem Post.

"I see that as something that will lead to a confrontation between Israel and Iran."

Hanegbi said that a Biden victory does not give him cause for concern on most issues, including a perhaps harsher line on illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

But the issue of Iran was an exception.

The minister said that the Iran nuclear deal agreed by the Obama administration in 2015 is seen by himself and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "mistaken – and that's an understatement".

"If Biden stays with that policy, there will, in the end, be a violent confrontation between Israel and Iran," he told Israel's Channel 13 News.

The knife-edge US presidential race tilted toward Democrat Joe Biden early Thursday, with wins in Michigan and Wisconsin bringing him closer to a majority. President Donald Trump has made unsubstantiated claims that he was being cheated out of an election win and threatened court action over votes still being counted.

Minister Hanegbi said any deal negotiations between President Trump and Iran would be "a different agreement that he would force through maximum pressure sanctions".

Since unilaterally withdrawing the US from a landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers in 2018, Trump's administration has re-imposed - and extended - crippling sanctions on Iran.

Trump's Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, has said he wants to use the 2015 nuclear accord - a pact hammered out when he was vice president under Barack Obama - as a "starting-point for follow-on negotiations" with Tehran.

The accord promised sanctions relief to Iran in return for denuclearisation.

In April, Biden called for the US to ease sanctions on Iran to reduce suffering as the Islamic Republic reels from the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: What will happen to US 'maximum pressure' on Iran after the election?

Biden said the United States should set up a dedicated channel for banks and other companies to operate in Iran and issue licenses for the sale of pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

The presidential candidate said that President Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran had "badly backfired" by encouraging aggression from the clerical regime.

Iranian officials have repeatedly said they favour no specific candidate in the race, while also calling for a return to the nuclear accord, the lifting of sanctions and compensation for damages caused.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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