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tv   Inside Story  LINKTV  April 13, 2021 5:30am-6:01am PDT

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ron blaming israel for a power blackout, calling it an active nuclear terrorism. it happened as diplomatic efforts to provide a 2015 nuclear deal are set to resume. this is "inside story." ♪ >> welcome to the program. iran promising revenge for sunday's power blackout. at a nuclear facility. iran's foreign minister has described it as sabotage. israeli media are quoting unnamed intelligence sources
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saying the spy service was behind it. it is just after enhanced centrifuges for enrichment or unveiled, but also as the iranians are set to resume talks with the u.s. to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. israel has long opposed that accord. >> nuclear terrorism. that is how tehran has described this, pointing the finger at israel. >> what happened, as israel's have said several times, what we are hearing from different sources confirms israel was behind this incident. >> though they caught -- quoted identified -- unidentified intelligent services, there is little information about how the attack was carried out. >> this was not a coincidence.
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israel is the usual suspect in these events. one must be mindful there are many opponents in many quarters -- corners to the resumption of the joint comprehensive plan of action, none the least of which is from within around itself. >> iran is urging the international atomic energy association to take action, saying it reserves the right to punish the perpetrators. negotiations about the 2015 nuclear agreement started last week with indirect talks between tehran and the united states. president joe biden says he is willing to rescue the deal that was abandoned by his predecessor donald trump. that is, if iran comes into compliance with the deal. there have been two attacks against the natanz nuclear facility in the space of a year. israel has also been blamed for
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the assassination of iran's lead nuclear scientist and an attack on a ship in the red sea. this has raised questions about the country's ability to protect its facilities. just days ago, state television aired a music video promoting its nuclear program. for now, it is unclear how much damage has been inflicted and how much the program has been set back. >> iran was top of the agenda during the u.s. defense nksecretary lloyd austin's visit to israel, where he met benjamin netanyahu. >> we both know the horrors of war. we both understand the importance of preventing war. we both agree iran must never possess nuclear weapons. my policy as prime minister of israel is clear. i will never allow iran to
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obtain nuclear capability, carry out its genocidal goal of illuminating israel. -- eliminating israel. >> joining us from iran is the chair for american studies at the university of tehran. in tel aviv, the iranian politics lecturer at the interdisciplinary center, and in washington, d.c., a former u.s. diplomat and the co-author of "going to tehran." thank you for your time with us. hillary, american and israeli intelligence officials, the u.s. and israeli media, are pointing to an israeli role when it comes to this attack in iran. if so, what do you think the purpose is behind it? is it to setback the nuclear
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program or setback diplomacy as talks are set to resume this week? >> i think it is to setback diplomacy. there is no evidence anything israel has done over the years has setback iran's nuclear program. what the contrary. it has acted as a catalyst to push iran further forward in its nuclear program. it is about scuttling diplomacy, showing not only iran, but maybe more so the biden administration, that it will not allow, as is really officials have said repeatedly, allow this kind of jcpoa to be reconstituted in a way that will be accepted. israeli officials have said that publicly. i would take them at their word on this one. >> are you saying this is a message to the u.s. and the biden administration? >> i think it is a message to the biden administration. that said, i don't think we can discount the biden
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administration's support for israel. the biden administration has made very clear it is going to fulsome lead support israel. our secretary of defense was in israel at this attack was being launched. there is a high-level working group publicly disclosed to the press between israeli and american intelligence and security officials. it puts the united states in a bind. even if the united states do not partake in this operation as u.s. officials have tried to say overnight, even if the united states did not partake, does the united states have advance warning? does it benefit? israeli press reports say u.s. officials are satisfied with what the israelis have done. either way, it puts the united states in a very bad position in any perception of talks over iran's nuclear program. >> how is this being seen in
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iran? >> people basically believe this was carried out with u.s. support because all israeli acts of terror and sabotage have been carried out with support from u.s. military bases surrounding iran, u.s. embassies, sometimes other embassies. we also have a history where iea -- iaea have passed on intelligence to the israeli regime. whether biden himself knew it or not, there is the possibility the pentagon and the cia went behind his back, as with all repeatedly during the trump administration. whether biden knew or not, it does not make a difference. the fact americans have spoken of their satisfaction shows that when they want to talk, they are
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still willing to be violent and to support acts of war against iranian people. that does not help any talks. i think it creates an incentive -- let me put it this way. it destroys incentive for iranians to negotiate in order to implement a nuclear deal. >> what do you think about the u.s. position in particular when it comes to this attack? what have been notified by israel? the accusation is israel was behind it by iran, or would israel have done this alone and gone against biden's wishes? >> the fact the attack took place a day before the arrival of the u.s. secretary of defense makes it probable israel
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informed the united states and had the united states' tacit approval, because to undertake such an action if israel was behind this attack, to undertake it the day before the u.s. secretary of defense arrives in israel, would be quite risky if the americans were not informed of such a plan. i think in a way, this helps the united states, this attack. during the negotiations, the regime has been attacking american forces. we see a number of attacks recently. america has only retaliated once. the iranian regime has tried to use proxies to pressure the americans in the nuclear talks. we sought recently they brought -- bought advanced centrifuges. that is another pressure point, which now it seems they no
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longer have, judging by the new york times report. i think what is important to note is there have been two attacks in the press attributed to israel in the last year. both have been at places where iran has assembled or installed advanced centrifuges. that also seems to be a new redline for the state of israel for the nuclear program in iran. >> as hillary was saying, israel -- you just said israel has reportedly attacked iran in the past. it has conducted cyber attacks. it has reportedly assassinated some of the iranian nuclear scientists. nothing has changed when it comes to the trajectory of the iranian program. iran has not altered its timeline in any significant way. do the israelis think this time
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will be different? >> if israel were behind those attacks, this has created a deterrence. this is one of the reasons i think ultimately iran came to the negotiation table in 2015. it realized if it wants to make a nuclear weapon -- we have to remember 2003 was raining intelligence informed the international community about iran's activity, which was illegal. iran had not informed the iaea about the legal timeframe. if these attacks are attributed to israel, these are part of a campaign of israel of sanctions supporting sanctions in the united states through its allies and these actions against the regime which basically since 1990 declared war against the
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state of israel, proxy war, but still wore. this seems to be part and parcel of israel's tools. i wish we could negotiate with iran, but it's regime does not recognize israel's right to exist and it holds competitions. it finds the holocaust funny enough to host cartoon competitions. it makes it impossible to negotiate. >> would you like to weigh in on this? do you share the point of view that this may be a way for israel to have indirect leverage at the talks in the sense it is trying to complicate the decisions of the other members when it comes to nuclear talks? >> in general i would not take propaganda that the israeli regime promotes very seriously. first of all, in 2015, the iranians did not go to the
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negotiating table because of pressure. it was because the united states under obama accepted iran's right to enrichment in the talks in oman. in 2003, the information was -- and while iran because of a technicality was on the wrong side of the law, his legal advisers had iran was not violating the law. there was never any evidence iran was pursuing a nuclear weapon, unlike the apartheid regime in palestine which has lots of nuclear weapons, and unlike the apartheid regime that carries out acts of violence against neighboring countries in syria, killing syrian soldiers in gaza, and so on. that aside, it is quite clear that as your guest hillary pointed out, these exaggerated attacks are not going to have
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any impact on the iranian position. it will harden the iranian position. the new york times article was wrong. the advanced centrifuges were not in that particular hall. this will come out because when the inspectors go and see it, they will see the ir nine, the ir six, and the ir five centrifuges will be working. propaganda can only work for a period of time. the old centrifuges which were damaged in one of the halls, those will be replaced with highly advanced centrifuges, and that is one of the iranian responses to the israeli regime. other responses will come out later on with -- the iranians are patient and i think the changing of the map of the region, where iran and its allies have been on the rise despite maximum pressure campaigns and despite the
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atrocities carried out by americans across the board, we see the iranians and their allies in the region today are far more influential than they were 20 years ago. >> but going into these talks, a moment ago you said iran would harden its position. what is your viewpoint on what they are going to do when it comes to the talks? will they just resume them? go back to business as normal? or do they go in undermined because of this incident? >> the only thing that is undermined is the incentive to talk. the iranian position is clear. the americans, if they want the nuclear deal to work, if they want iran to implement its side of the bargain, the americans have to implement their side. iran is not going to accept some of the sanctions, the sanctions trump imposed, even the sanctions obama imposed after the deal was signed.
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those are violations. if iran wanted to appease anyone, they would appease trump. they are not going to appease a much weaker biden. the conditions iran has set are clear. if americans want a deal, they have to abide by it. on the other hand, the iranians, peoples and iran are seeing the united states is behaving violently. they will not rain and -- rein in the mad dog in tel aviv, expresses leisure in assassinations -- pleasure in assassinations in tehran. that will not increase the incentives into run -- the incentive in iran and it will not increase sentiment -- incentive among the general population either. >> iran is saying it will seek revenge. does it find itself in an awkward situation before the
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resumption of nuclear talks? on the one hand it says it feels compelled to retaliate. on the other hand it does have to balance that against the backdrop of the talks taking place, which iran obviously has a huge stake in? >> it is actually washington that is in not just an awkward position, but a serious -- in serious trouble. we don't have to presume much. the obama administration was in a similar situation when the israelis wound up killing iranian nuclear scientists on the streets of to run -- of tehr an. it was such a big problem for the united states that u.s. intelligence officials were backgrounding, very thinly veiled backgrounding major media outlets in washington that it was the israelis. it put the administration in a
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position where it had to seek diplomacy with iran, almost at any cost. esotherwise, face an israeli instigated war which obama did not want. we are in a similar situation where the israelis, perhaps in concert with some in the u.s. administration, are pushing the biden administration into this very serious choice. go along with war against iran, or pursue serious diplomacy with the lifting of all sanctions trump imposed. as the iranians have been saying for some time. the biden administration is in a much more difficult position than it was even a week ago. and a similar position that it was under the obama administration. it was not sanctions that brought iran to the table. it was this choice. make a concrete concession to iran in terms of saying, we recognize their right to enrich domestically, or go along with
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an israeli instigated war. obama decided that was not worth it for the united states. there is a good chance biden will also think it is not worth going to war, but prime minister netanyahu is pushing biden to make that choice, and he may have some support within the administration. at the end of the day, will president biden do that? it is an open question. >> what do you think netanyahu's endgame with iran is? >> i hope there is going to be a negotiated settlement. i supported the jcpoa. afterwards there were things done by the iranian regime such as testing ballistic missiles in march 2016, three months after the deal went into effect. i still hope there is going to be a negotiated settlement. biden is not under pressure more than iran.
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it is the iranian government that only has $4 billion left in its account accessible for reserves that according to the imf, not the united states, it is the islamic republic -- if you go on social media, you see the way people are so angry about the mismanagement and the corruption of the country, huge abuses of human rights, so it is the iranian regime that is under pressure here. not biden. biden can take his time. and i don't agree with this assessment that -- first of all, i hope there is going to be an agreement, but not every time that iran does something, and america and israel does something in return, people say israel and america want war. suddenly they say there's
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going to be war. when iran does something, they don't talk about war. i don't agree iran is going to go to war. history has taught us iran prefers to fight proxy wars against the state of israel. in october 1990, after the madrid peace talks, iran declared proxy wars against the state of israel. it uses hamas and islamic jihad to fight israel. iran does not want war against the state of israel. so i do not agree -- >> for the sake of time, i will allow you to respond. go ahead. >> again, one of the dishonest things the israeli regime repeats is this issue of annihilating israel. the iranian position has always been the israeli regime must cease to exist as apartheid --
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as an apartheid regime. the israeli regime knows it. >> that is a lie. you are lying. there is written evidence to show you are lying. written evidence in farsi to show you are lying. >> pretend they were opposed to apartheid in the first place. i think it is quite obvious. the united states knows iran today is far more powerful than it was 10, 20 years ago. the united states has not been careful about that. iran's rival is not the israeli regime. they are all dependent on the united states. united states has huge internal problems and its allies in the region have problems. netanyahu is a symbol of corruption. he wants to stay out of jail. part of the reason he intensifies tension across the board is because he wants to stay out of jail. but the americans have to make a choice. do they want to spend more
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trillions of dollars in this region at a time when their economy is facing such severe pressures and where the combined amount of bailout money they have spent is less than the money they have wasted in this region and have lost influence as a result? the decision is that of the united states. iran will not give up its sovereignty and will continue to oppose the apartheid regime just like it opposed apartheid in south africa. the solution is basically that the united states, if it wanted nuclear deal, it has to abide by that deal. the u.s. regime has to verify its acts as well. >> hillary, last word to you, where do things had next? >> the longer the united states has delayed doing what it needs to do to come back into compliance with the jcpoa by lifting the sanctions trump imposed, the longer the united states delays that, the more violence we are going to see in
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the middle east region that president biden clearly wants to step away from and to look more towards china and u.s. domestic issues. what the israelis have done will backfire, as it did in the 2010 to 2013 period. it wl force the united states to make this clear decision to keep standing with israel to pursue these policies that are very much against stability and a path toward diplomacy, or the united states is going to have to get to the table, do a serious job of negotiating with iran, and lift the sanctions president trump illegally imposed after the deal had been signed. it is a clear choice the israelis are forcing on the united states. i am not sure the biden administration will opt for the serious path toward diplomacy. that is something we need to take into account. the israelis are pushing very hard for that decision. >> we will have to leave it from there.
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thank you. and thanks for watching. you can watch the program again any time by visiting our website. for further discussion, you can go to our facebook page. you can join the conversation on twitter as well. thanks for watching and goodbye for now.
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