The US will never stop Israel from defending itself against Iran, US President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Yair Lapid, according to US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides.
“We will never tie Israel’s hands in the defense that Israel needs,” Nides said, quoting Biden. “We understand the aggression of Iran.”
Biden also repeated his commitment that Iran will never obtain a nuclear weapon, according to the ambassador.
Nides says US will accept diplomatic solution with Iran
“We also would like a diplomatic solution, but only under the conditions the president has laid out with our European colleagues,” the ambassador stated. “There are many gaps and conditions that have to be reached before we would actually agree to an agreement.”
"We also would like a diplomatic solution, but only under the conditions the president has laid out with our European colleagues"US Amb. to Israel Tom Nides, on the Iran nuclear deal
“Our position is very clear,” Nides said. “We support the security of the State of Israel.”
EU commissioner Borrell worried over Iranian demands
Nides mentioned the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps not being removed from the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations list as an example of the Biden administration listening to Israel’s concerns.
The Iran talks’ coordinator, EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, said he was “less confident... about the conversion of the negotiation process and the prospect of closing a deal right now.”
“We were converging to a closer position and the initial requests that we received were reasonable... and they were taken aboard without countering the text fundamentally,” Borrell said of Iran’s response last month to what was supposed to be a final draft of the deal.
However, Tehran’s new demands for additional guarantees from Washington last week were “not converging, [they are] diverging....That’s very much worrisome,” Borrell said.
“If the process doesn’t converge, then the whole process is in danger. The last answer we got – if the purpose is to close the deal quickly – it’s not going to help,” the EU commissioner said.
Mossad chief David Barnea departed for Washington on Sunday after briefing members of Congress visited Israel. Barnea plans to hold meetings at CIA Headquarters, the Pentagon, the State Department and more.
Nides said of the Mossad chief’s trip, “We are not lost on many Israeli officials’ opposition to the JCPOA. One good thing about this administration is that we are in direct contact with Israel every single day on this topic, including Director Barnea. He is welcome to come to the US and meet with his counterparts. He does a spectacular job as the head of Mossad and we are more than happy to have him anytime he wants.”
The US will not allow an Iran deal to include the closing of International Atomic Energy Agency investigations into traces of enriched uranium found in undeclared nuclear sites and will insist on the IAEA’s independence, Nides said, referring to one of Tehran’s demands since the EU tabled its draft in July.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said at a news conference on Monday, “An end to the agency’s probes is part of the guarantees that we are seeking to have a sustainable and durable nuclear agreement.”
US foreign relations lawmaker: IAEA must complete probe
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) said during a press conference in Jerusalem that he “hope[s] the IAEA will remain committed to the portfolio it opened on Iran to ascertain sites undeclared by the Iranians and what transpired there.”
“There can be no real agreement if there isn’t a conclusion, and the conclusion would only lead us to is that Iran did seek to develop nuclear weapons,” Menendez stated.
Israel opposes the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, which restricted Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. The limitations on uranium enrichment, centrifuges and other aspects of the nuclear program would gradually expire by 2030 in a series of “sunset clauses,” with a major restriction on centrifuge development lifted at the end of next year.
The sunset clauses would remain intact and on the same schedule, and all US sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program, among others, would be lifted, according to the latest draft of a renewed deal proposed by the European Union, the nuclear talks’ coordinator. Former US president Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018, imposing more sanctions, but Biden has promised to return to the agreement.
Iran submitted its latest response to the deal last week, and the US said publicly that Iran’s demands were not constructive.
Menendez said that if the US and Iran do reach an agreement to return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he “can’t imagine it will be any better than the first iteration,” which he opposed.
“Time and circumstances have allowed Iran to advance its nuclear enrichment program,” the senator said. “We cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear bomb. It is rather clear that is their intention, despite their denials.”
"We cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear bomb. It is rather clear that is their intention, despite their denials"US Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Under US law, any agreement lifting sanctions on Iran requires congressional review. A two-thirds vote by Congress could prevent the agreement from moving forward.
Menendez said it remains unclear whether there are enough votes to block a deal, but that “the process in of itself will be telling about the nature of the agreement and whether it is worthy of support.”
If there is an agreement that survives congressional review, Menendez and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) plan to “have legislation continuing to review the Iran portfolio,” and have the executive branch report on it to Congress quarterly.
Graham said that he found in his meetings that “the Israeli people seem to be united around the idea that the world should be wary of Iran” and he learned “pretty chilling information about the ambitions of Iran as a nuclear regime.”