He’s set to speak at 1 p.m. ET. Usually it pays to wait to comment on a speech until after it’s made but the hype this morning is so intense that it’s worth a post in itself.
“Whoever still believes Iran signed the nuclear deal with honest intentions is going to have a very interesting time this evening,” said an Israeli official to Axios, referring to who I can only assume is Ben Rhodes. He’s the only person on either side who ever believed Iran signed the deal with honest intentions, isn’t he?
Israeli officials say he’ll provide dramatic information showing Iran is cheating on the deal. They say he updated President Trump on Saturday and Secretary of State Pompeo yesterday. This comes 12 days before Trump’s deadline to decide whether to stay in the deal.
From a senior Israeli official: “Israeli intelligence services have uncovered a huge amount of new and dramatic information on the Iranian nuclear program. Whoever still believes Iran signed the nuclear deal with honest intentions is going to have a very interesting time this evening.”
The timing is noteworthy. Netanyahu met with Pompeo yesterday and was supposed to speak before the Knesset this afternoon in honor of Theodore Herzl Day. That speech has now been canceled as he prepares to speak about Iran instead. Axios is right about the impending U.S. deadline too: Trump stuck with the nuclear deal the last time the issue came up in January but only very grudgingly, all but vowing to tear it up before the next deadline. Now here’s Netanyahu allegedly with the proof Trump needs to justify his decision in the nick of time. One obvious question in the aftermath of today’s announcement: When did Israel first discover evidence of cheating? And why didn’t U.S. intelligence find it first?
Another interesting wrinkle in the timing:
The Syrian army confirmed that Sunday that several military bases in northern Syria were struck in an attack blamed on Israel by the Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper Al Akhbar…
The explosions following the strike registered as a 2.6 magnitude earthquake by the European Mediterranean Seismological Center, but the weapons used did not cause the quake. Over 18 people were killed and another 60 were wounded, Sky News Arabia reported citing regime media…
According to some reports the target in Hama, an army base known as Brigade 47, was an underground missile production facility and depot for surface-to-surface missile funded by Iran and built with the help of North Korea.
That’s an awfully big boom, suggesting that the strike did indeed hit a weapons depot of some sort. Israel reportedly informed the U.S. and Russia after the attack that if Iran uses Syria to stage attacks on Israel, the IDF and IAF will hit back at Iran itself. What’s the connection, if any, between the missiles targeted last night and the nuclear news Netanyahu is set to reveal today? Does he think those missiles were meant to carry nuclear payloads, giving Iran the ability to launch a nuclear attack on Israel from two fronts?
And what does this mean for U.S. negotiations with North Korea? Bad enough that Pyongyang had a hand in helping Iran build the missiles that were targeted, but the White House tearing up a nuclear treaty it had agreed to with a foreign power just a few years ago and taking a newly hostile stance isn’t going to give Kim Jong Un confidence that any deal he reaches with the U.S. will be solemnly followed by Washington. Stay tuned.
Update: It should go without saying that Netanyahu’s news will be met with extreme skepticism by U.S. Democrats. They dislike him to begin with, partly because of his outspoken opposition to Obama’s big foreign policy “achievement” with Iran. To agree that Iran cheated on the deal is to admit that Obama got suckered. They can’t do that.
Update: Because we live in a bad TV show now, Iran’s foreign minister is basically trolling Netanyahu on Twitter.
BREAKING: The boy who can't stop crying wolf is at it again. Undeterred by cartoon fiasco at UNGA. You can only fool some of the people so many times. pic.twitter.com/W7saODfZDK
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 30, 2018