US, Israeli officials discuss concerns over Iran's nuclear program

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan meets Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat and Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan.

Elad Benari ,

Gilad Erdan, Jake Sullivan and Meir Ben-Shabbat
Gilad Erdan, Jake Sullivan and Meir Ben-Shabbat
Israeli Embassy in Washington

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met in Washington on Tuesday with Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat and updated him on the nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna.

Israel’s Ambassador to the US and UN, Gilad Erdan, who was part of the meeting, tweeted, “Today, Israel’s National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat and I had an excellent meeting with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.”

“We discussed our shared goal of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons and agreed to work together to strengthen our security ties,” he added.

A statement published by the White House following the meeting said, “The US and Israeli officials discussed their serious concerns about advancements in Iran’s nuclear program in recent years. The United States updated Israel on the talks in Vienna and emphasized strong US interest in consulting closely with Israel on the nuclear issue going forward.”

“The United States and Israel agreed on the significant threat posed by Iran’s aggressive behavior in the region, and US officials underscored President Biden’s unwavering support for Israel’s right to defend itself,” added the statement.

The two sides “agreed to establish an inter-agency working group to focus particular attention on the growing threat of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Precision Guided Missiles produced by Iran and provided to its proxies in the Middle East Region.”

They also “shared concerns about recent violent confrontations in Jerusalem and the US officials welcomed Israel’s recent calls for calm,” according to the White House statement.

“The US strongly condemned the recent indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel. US officials affirmed this administration’s continued support for efforts to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians and a two-state solution to the conflict.”

“The United States remains unyielding in its commitment to Israel’s security and will work to strengthen all aspects of the US-Israel partnership,” concluded the statement.  

Tuesday’s meeting follows recent talks in Vienna aimed at bringing back the US to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, from which former President Donald Trump withdrew two years ago.

The talks in Vienna 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 last week that more work was needed to revive the 2015 deal, while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the "negotiations have achieved 60-70 percent progress."

A senior State Department official told reporters last week 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.

Barak Ravid of Axios reported before Tuesday’s meeting between the US and Israeli officials that the Israeli delegation would stress Israel’s objection to a US return to the 2015 nuclear deal and refuse to discuss its contents.