The Wall Street Journal said, in a report Thursday, that Israeli officials are urging the administration of US President Joe Biden not to conclude a partial nuclear deal with Iran, warning that this would be a “gift” for the hard-line government in Tehran.
The Wall Street Journal quoted senior Israeli officials as saying that they were “very concerned” that Washington was paving the way for an agreement that would provide Iran with partial sanctions relief in return for a freeze or reversal of its nuclear activity.
“Such an agreement would be harmful and would only benefit the Iranian regime,” the officials added.
The newspaper quotes US officials as saying that they discussed several ideas on how to maintain the diplomatic option in case the new Iranian government refuses to return to the nuclear agreement soon. But at the same time, they emphasized that they had not presented any new proposal or initiative to the Iranians so far.
The Israeli side’s comment comes at a time when the upcoming negotiations between Iran and the countries concerned with the 2015 nuclear agreement are witnessing remarkable tension, due to Iran’s reluctance to return to concluding a final agreement obligating it to curb its nuclear program.
For his part, the Israeli researcher in Middle East affairs, Roni Shalom, said that every agreement with Tehran at this stage “helps it spread more terrorism around the world, especially in the Arab countries.”
In contact with Al-Hurra website, Shalom stressed that Tehran “disregards Western countries” and considers the United States in a weak position.
He explained that the Israeli position is based on the principle of no turning back, and that “any new agreement with Tehran only serves the Iranian regime.”
And about the US options, which the commander of the US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie, spoke about on Wednesday, and which include the military option, Shalom sees that they stem from “fears consistent with Israel’s”, which sees that Iran is only trying to gain time.
Shalom points out that the Iranian regime has so far been able to deceive the world, explaining: “Unfortunately, many groups in Europe and America have already been deceived and want to establish commercial relations with Tehran, especially Germany.”
According to the “Wall Street Journal”, US diplomats are intensifying their discussions with European countries and friendly Middle Eastern countries about how to deal with Iran’s advanced nuclear program.
And Iran has kept the talks on a standby mode only, since the election of the new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, last June.
And the “Axios” website said, about a week ago, that the US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, proposed to his Israeli counterpart, Eyal Holata, the idea of a temporary agreement with Iran, to gain more time in the negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement.
The US website attributed the reason for proposing an interim deal to the fact that Iran’s massive nuclear progress has brought Tehran very close to the levels of uranium enrichment needed to make a nuclear weapon.
According to the American sources, the proposal is that in exchange for Iran freezing uranium enrichment, the United States and its allies could release some of the frozen Iranian funds or offer waivers from sanctions on humanitarian goods.
Holata told Sullivan that he thought it was “not a good idea,” and attributed this to Israel’s concern that any temporary agreement would become a permanent agreement that would allow Iran to maintain its nuclear infrastructure and uranium stockpile, an Israeli official told the US site.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has said it believes Iran has increased its stockpile of highly enriched uranium in violation of a 2015 agreement with world powers.
The agency told member states in its confidential quarterly report, Wednesday, that Iran, which has a stockpile of 17.7 kilograms of enriched uranium with a purity of up to 60 percent, has increased its stockpile by about 8 kilograms since August.
This highly enriched uranium can easily be purified to the point of making nuclear weapons, which is why countries have sought to contain Iran’s nuclear program.
The threats of military action between Iran and Israel escalated dramatically, in conjunction with military maneuvers in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Oman, about two weeks ago, under American supervision and with the participation of Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.
During the past few days, senior Israeli military said that their forces were preparing for the possibility of an armed conflict with Iran and its proxies in the region.
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi stated on November 9 that the IDF was “accelerating operational plans and readiness to deal with Iran and the nuclear military threat.”
The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Air Force, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, responded, saying that the only regime that talks about survival is Israel, “so, a regime that talks about its existence is doomed to destruction and cannot talk about the destruction of other countries.”
Israel’s fear comes at a time when countries are preparing to resume nuclear talks Monday, in Vienna.
Expectations have fallen on the possibility of reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement, from which the administration of former US President Donald Trump withdrew.
US officials say they have not put any new proposal or initiative on the table, and that they have discussed a number of ideas about how to maintain a level of diplomacy if the new Iranian government indicates it will not return to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Observers believe that when negotiations resume on Monday, the United States will have to find a delicate balance between making concessions and applying pressure to reach military threats.
Iran and the European Union announced the resumption of negotiations, after they were suspended for about five months, in an effort to revive the 2015 agreement aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
US official: Washington will not stand idly by if Iran exhausts nuclear talks
The US envoy in charge of the Iranian file, Rob Malley, stressed, on Wednesday, that Washington will not stand “idly” if Iran does not work quickly to return to the table of talks on its nuclear program, which will resume next week.
The agreement made it possible to lift many of the economic sanctions that were imposed on the Iranian regime, in exchange for reducing its nuclear activities and ensuring the peace of its program.
But its effects have become null and void since Trump decided to unilaterally withdraw his country from it in 2018.
The situation has changed a lot since negotiations were suspended in June, when a hard-line conservative president, Ibrahim Raisi, took power in Iran. Although he affirmed his support for the diplomatic track to lift the sanctions, he stressed that his country will not negotiate “for the sake of negotiation”, and will not mortgage its economic situation to “the desire of foreigners.”
Meanwhile, Westerners have expressed “great and growing” concerns about Tehran’s nuclear activities, while Iran has backed away from many of its core commitments under the nuclear deal, nearly a year after Trump withdrew from it and reimposed sanctions.
And while President Biden, at the beginning of this year, expressed confidence in his ability to revive the agreement, he no longer hides his concern now about Iran’s position.
Washington is working on an alternative plan in the event of failure to return to the Vienna Agreement.
The negotiations that will take place in Vienna between Iran, France, Britain, Germany, China, Russia and the European Union, with indirect US participation, aim to determine the sanctions that will be lifted on the Islamic Republic and set a timetable for Iran to return to abide by its commitments.