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US considering partial nuclear deal with Iran, Washington tells Israel

April 4, 2023 at 2:58 pm

President Joe Biden visits a Wolfspeed semiconductor manufacturing facility in Durham, North-Carolina to kick off the Investing in America Tour in Durham NC, United States [Peter Zay AA]

The US has told Israel that it is considering advancing a “partial agreement” with Iran based on freezing parts of its nuclear programme in return for lifting some sanctions, Walla news site has reported. The report cited ten Israeli officials, Western diplomats and American experts.

According to the sources, President Joe Biden’s administration also told the European powers which were signatories to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal — Germany, France and Britain — as well as Israel.

There is talk about a partial agreement that includes freezing uranium enrichment to the level of 60 per cent in exchange for easing sanctions on Iran, such as unblocking $7 billion frozen in bank accounts in South Korea.

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An Israeli official and a Western diplomat told the site that the Americans conveyed the offer to the Iranians through intermediaries. Although at this stage Tehran has rejected the offer, it has made it clear that it is interested in a complete return to the 2015 deal.

Two US experts on Iran said that National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan is leading the move to advance the partial agreement with Tehran, given the fact that reaching a full agreement is no longer possible “due to Iranian military aid to Russia and the suppression of demonstrations in Iran.”

Walla described the discussions in the White House on a partial agreement with Iran as a “new approach” by the administration to the crisis surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme. “This illustrates how concerned the US is about the progress the Iranians have made over the past two years.”

A spokeswoman for the National Security Council at the White House was contacted by the Israeli news site. She refused to respond to what she called “mostly untrue rumours.” However, she did say: “President Biden is fully committed to ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon. We continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve that goal.”

In late February, a report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency stated that its inspectors had detected uranium particles enriched to 83.7 per cent at the secret Fordow fuel enrichment plant. This is slightly less than the 90 per cent needed to produce a nuclear weapon. At the time, Iran denied enriching uranium by more than 60 per cent.

Diplomats from Iran, the US and five other countries have been negotiating for months in the Austrian capital, Vienna, about a deal to place restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear programme in return for lifting the economic sanctions that former US President Donald Trump re-imposed after Washington withdrew unilaterally in May 2018 from the 2015 nuclear deal.

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