Israeli officials to stress objection to US return to Iran deal

Netanyahu instructs Israeli delegation that will visit Washington next week to stress Israel’s objection to US return to 2015 nuclear deal.

Elad Benari ,

Netanyahu and Biden
Netanyahu and Biden
Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the Israeli delegation that is going to travel to Washington next week for strategic talks on Iran to stress Israel’s objection to a US return to the 2015 nuclear deal and to refuse to discuss its contents, Israeli officials said Thursday, according to Barak Ravid of Axios.

The delegation of senior Israeli national security officials who will descend on Washington next week for talks on Iran includes National security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Aviv Kochavi, military intelligence chief Tamir Hayman and Mossad director Yossi Cohen.

Netanyahu convened a meeting on Thursday with those officials as well as with Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to discuss the policies to be presented in Washington, according to Ravid.

An Israeli official said the decision at the end of the meeting was not to enter into a discussion over the current talks in Vienna other than objecting to a return to the nuclear deal and stressing it is dangerous for Israel.

During the meeting, Netanyahu stressed that Israel is not a party to the nuclear deal and therefore it is not bound by it in any way, an Israeli official told Ravid.

Netanyahu said in the meeting that Israel will act only according to its national security interests and will maintain its freedom of operation against Iran in the region.

The talks in Vienna have involved diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran and Russia who met the Iranian representatives, while US diplomats participated indirectly in the talks from a nearby hotel.

The US and European Union both said on Tuesday that more work was needed to revive the 2015 deal, while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the "negotiations have achieved 60-70 percent progress."

On Wednesday, a senior State Department official told reporters that the US provided Iran with an outline of the sanctions it is prepared to remove as part of a mutual return to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

The State Department official said the US made clear to Iran it will not agree to remove all sanctions before Iran takes any action at all.

“We have more clarity about what the US needs to do to go back to full compliance with the JCPOA and Iran knows better what it needs to do to go back to full compliance," the official said.