Braced for imminent nuclear accord with Iran, US pulls away from military option, IDF stays on the ready

This is a followup from a previous DEBKAfile article, which can be found here:

Mystery of missing ayatollah: Ali Khamenei’s three-week seclusion for work on nuclear deal with US

Israel’s high command, working on the assumption that an American-Iranian nuclear accord is near its final stage, plans to keep in place advanced preparations for a unilateral military strike on Iran’s nuclear program into 2014 – hence the IDF’s request for a supplemental NIS3.5bn (app. $1bn) defense budget this week.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report exclusively that the main body of the accord is essentially complete. All the same, President Barack Obama plans to announce before Christmas that only partial agreement has been achieved and negotiations will continue.

He will be cagey in public – partly because not all parts of the accord have been finalized, although the pace of US-Iranian negotiations have been accelerated, and partly to avoid coming clean on the full scope of the deal with Tehran.

The US-Iranian talks are being held at three levels:

1. American and Iranian diplomats and nuclear experts are discussing the technical aspects of the accord in Vienna. Some of these meetings – but not all – take place at International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters in the city.

2. Secretary of State John Kerry and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who is the senior US negotiator, are handling the second level of direct negotiations opposite Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif and his deputy Abbas Araqchi.

3. The third level deals with sanctions. It is run by officials of the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which oversees the sanctions regime, and senior staff from President Hassan Rouhani’s bureau.

This process aims at lifting decision-making on sanctions out of the hands of Congress and transferring it to this secret negotiating mechanism. By this means, President Obama hopes not only to thwart Congressional calls for tighter sanctions against Iran, but also to forestall Netanyahu’s efforts to this end.

On Tuesday October 29, a group of Jewish leaders was invited to the White House to meet with members of the National Security Council for an update on the Iran negotiations and a bid to defuse tensions with them and Israel. But none of the above information about the accelerated progress of a US-Iranian accord was released to them.

Full article: Braced for imminent nuclear accord with Iran, US pulls away from military option, IDF stays on the ready (DEBKAfile)

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