Mossad chief travels to the US while nuclear talks with Iran stall


Mossad leader David Barnea was due to travel to Washington on Sunday to speak to senior officials in the Biden government about Iran.

The trip takes place days after the halt to renewed negotiations to restore the 2015 agreement, which restricts Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions.

The daily Haaretz reported that Barnea will try to convince the US leadership not to seek an interim deal that would result in Iran not fully complying with the deal and instead seek international support for tough sanctions against Tehran.

The newspaper said the meetings had been described as “extremely significant”.

The spy chief will stress that if a final deal with Iran is reached, Israel will not be bound by it and will continue its efforts to thwart the Islamic Republic’s nuclear work, according to news site Ynet.

Barnea, who will act as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s envoy, also reportedly wants to present the Americans with new information about the Iranian program.

Defense Secretary Benny Gantz will visit the US later this week for talks that are expected to focus on Iran as well.

Barnea’s trip follows his promise on Thursday that Iran will never acquire nuclear weapons. He also said a bad deal between Tehran and the world powers would be “unbearable” for Israel.

The Iranian flag flies in front of the building of the International Center with the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021 (AP Photo / Florian Schroetter, FILE)

Senior Israeli officials have criticized the United States’ approach to nuclear talks with Iran, but see the current break in talks as an opportunity to influence the negotiations, the daily Haaretz reported on Sunday.

An unnamed source told the newspaper the US was surprised at how extreme Iran’s demands were in the talks resumed last week. Tehran insisted on a list of conditions for a return to a nuclear deal, as well as the lifting of all sanctions and a pledge that they will not be reintroduced in the near future.

Sources went on to say that removing the threat of sanctions would leave the international community without one of the main tools to keep Iran on a possible deal.

However, a separate political source told Haaretz that they increasingly believed that the talks would not result in an immediate agreement, but instead would ease the current commitments.

“We will see in the coming days whether the world powers are moving in the direction of the crisis with Iran or in the direction of flexibility,” he said.

On Saturday, a US official said Iran had pulled back on all of its previous compromises in reviving the 2015 Atomic Pact and would not be allowed to “slow” international negotiations while ramping up its nuclear activities, as well as a dispute with Israel over the discussions.

“We cannot accept a situation in which Iran is accelerating its nuclear program and slowly advancing its nuclear diplomacy,” said the senior US government official, repeating a recent warning from Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Speaking to reporters after his return from Vienna, the official said Washington did not plan to end the indirect talks with Tehran, which resumed in the Austrian capital last week, but hoped Iran would “take a serious stance” would return.

At talks this week, the official said, Iran had withdrawn all the compromises it had made in months of previous talks on reviving the deal, while maintaining others’ compromises and seeking more.

Iran came to Vienna “with proposals that pushed everything back – every compromise that Iran had brought here in the six rounds of talks, all compromises that others, and especially the USA, had made and then demanded more. “The senior official was quoted by Reuters as saying.

He said it was not clear when talks would resume and that Washington is “preparing for a world where there is no return to the JCPOA,” a nod to the official name of the agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

He said more sanctions would likely come if Washington concludes that Iran has finished negotiations.

The seventh round of nuclear talks ended on Friday after five days in Vienna with the return of the delegations to their provincial capitals and probably this week to Austria.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, is seen speaking on Jan.

Iran’s chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, said talks had been suspended “because the other side had to consult their capitals in order to provide a documented and reasonable response”. [Iranian] Suggestions.”

Blinken said Friday that negotiations have been halted because “Iran does not appear to be seriously trying to do what is necessary to return to compliance at the moment.”

European diplomats expressed “disappointment and concern” after Iran tabled two proposals that appear to undermine months of dialogue.

Iran suspended talks in June after the election of ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi.

The official argued on Saturday that the US had shown patience in allowing the process to be suspended for five months, but during that time the Iranians “continued to accelerate their nuclear program in particularly provocative ways.”

When Tehran finally returned to the table on Monday, he said, “with proposals that undermined any of the compromises Iran made during the six rounds of talks”.

He accused Iran of “bagging all the compromises that others – especially the US – had made and then asking for more.”

The Coburg Palais, the venue for the Iran nuclear talks, is pictured in Vienna on November 29, 2021. (Vladimir Simicek / AFP)

The official said he believes countries close to Iran are also angry with Tehran’s positions in the recent talks.

At that point, he said the US would continue its diplomatic efforts – but reiterated that it had “other tools” should negotiations fail.

The groundbreaking 2015 nuclear deal – originally agreed between the UK, China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia and the US – began to fail in 2018 when then-US President Donald Trump withdrew sanctions and re-imposed what was Iran prompted him to exceed the limits of its nuclear program the following year.

US President Joe Biden has announced plans to re-enter the deal, and the US indirectly participated in this week’s talks.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful.

Agencies contributed to this report.


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