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Israel presses US on Iran nuclear deal terms, to keep talking afterward

February 21, 2022 at 10:20 pm

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Casablanca, Morocco on 12 August 2021 [Jalal Morchidi/Anadolu Agency]

Israel is pressing the United States about the terms of an emerging Iranian nuclear deal, Israeli officials said on Monday, raising the prospect of a bilateral day-after agreement with Washington to address their worries, Reuters reports.

While not a party to the nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers in Vienna, Israel has conferred with the US administration in hope of wielding more clout over any revival of a 2015 deal with Tehran that was reached over its objections.

The United States under then-President Donald Trump withdrew from the original deal in 2018, with Israel’s encouragement. Diplomats told Reuters last week that a new deal was taking shape.

Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, told US-Jewish leaders:

We were unhappy with the deal to begin with … and, of course, we are more unhappy with (the emerging) deal

But there is a dialogue with the American administration about several issues that are surrounding this agreement.”

Among these, he said, was a demand by Tehran for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps to be removed from the US terrorism watch list. Israel’s message, Lapid said, was: “This is just wrong. Don’t do that.”

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Iran and US President Joe Biden’s administration have not confirmed such a demand.

Lapid said Israel and the United States were also discussing “other ways” – which he did not detail – of preventing Iran from making enough progress in projects like uranium enrichment to reach the threshold of capability to develop a nuclear bomb. The Islamic Republic denies seeking nuclear weapons.

Addressing the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organisations separately, Transportation Minister, Merav Michaeli – like Lapid, a member of Israel’s decision-making security cabinet – looked to post-deal talks with Washington.

“We will have to work on a complementary agreement between Israel and the US,” she said, without elaborating.

Israel says it will not be bound by any deal and could eventually take unilateral action against Iranian nuclear sites.

“There is a point at which we are going to tell the Americans (that) we have the freedom to act on Israel’s security the way we understand,” he said. “And it might have some consequences and it might have some price tags attached to it.”

Read: Iran President says Tehran ‘never has hope’ in Vienna nuclear talks