US-Iran relations strained after Hamas attack on Israel

The White House has not commented on the future of its diplomatic engagement with Iran, following reports that the Islamic Republic was involved in planning the recent Hamas attack on Israel. The attack, which took place on Saturday, October 7, 2023, killed at least 15 people and injured hundreds more in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.


Iran’s role in the attack

According to The Wall Street Journal, Iranian security officials approved Hamas’s plan to launch a surprise attack on Israel during a meeting in Beirut last Monday. The meeting was attended by leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah, two militant groups that are backed by Iran and oppose Israel’s existence. The report claimed that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had been working with Hamas since August on the details of the attack, which involved rockets, drones, and naval commandos.

Hamas and Hezbollah confirmed Iran’s involvement in the attack, saying that it was a response to Israel’s aggression and occupation of Palestinian lands. They also praised Iran for its support and guidance, and vowed to continue their resistance until Israel is defeated.

US reaction to the attack

The US condemned the attack as a “heinous act of terrorism” and expressed its solidarity with Israel, its closest ally in the Middle East. President Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and offered his condolences and assistance. He also urged both sides to de-escalate the situation and avoid further violence.

However, the White House has not responded to questions about the implications of Iran’s role in the attack for the US-Iran relations. Fox News Digital reached out to the White House at least three times this week, asking if the US would participate in negotiations and return to the nuclear deal if evidence is found that Iran helped plan the attack. The White House’s press office referred Fox News Digital to the National Security Council (NSC), which did not reply.

The NSC’s coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby, said on Tuesday that the US had not seen “hard, tangible evidence” that Iran was directly involved in planning or resourcing the attack. He added that Iran had a long history of supporting Hamas, and that it bore “a degree of complicity” in the attack. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan echoed Kirby’s remarks later on Tuesday, saying that the US had no evidence that Iran knew about the attack in advance or that it helped Hamas.

US-Iran nuclear talks

The US and Iran have been engaged in indirect talks since April 2023 to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which was abandoned by former President Trump in 2018. The deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), aimed to limit Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. The talks have been stalled since June 2023, when Iran elected a hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, who has demanded more concessions from the US.

The Biden administration has said that it is willing to return to the deal if Iran complies with its obligations under the agreement. However, it has also expressed concern about Iran’s other destabilizing activities in the region, such as its ballistic missile program and its support for proxy groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. The administration has said that it wants to address these issues in a follow-on agreement after restoring the JCPOA.

The Hamas attack on Israel has raised doubts about whether the US can trust Iran to abide by any agreement, and whether it can persuade its allies in the region to support its diplomatic efforts. Some experts have argued that the attack shows that Iran is not interested in dialogue with the US, and that it is using its proxies to undermine any potential deal. Others have suggested that the attack could be a bargaining tactic by Iran to pressure the US to lift sanctions and make concessions.

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