National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer met with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan at the White House on Thursday, amid concerns the US is trying to strike a deal with Iran as it advances its nuclear program.
“They continued discussions on enhanced coordination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and ways to counter threats from Iran and its proxies,” the White House readout stated.
Jerusalem believes Washington is working on an interim agreement with Iran, to replace the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that the US left in 2018, which would lift sanctions in exchange for Iran stopping its nuclear program.
A senior diplomatic source said that the Biden administration wants to be able to say it kept its campaign promise to return to the Iran deal - “to put Iran back in the box,” as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken put it in the past - ahead of the 2024 president election.
Israel has argued that Iran cannot be trusted to keep to an agreement, and will use the money freed up from lifting sanctions to continue malign actions against Israel and other states in the region, as well as developing its missile program.
Talk of a US-Iran agreement comes as Europe is more concerned over the Iranian threat as it supplies Russia with drones to use in its war on Ukraine. Components of the drones violate sanctions against Iranian missile components. More sanctions on Iran are set to expire, but any party to the JCPOA can use a “SnapBack” mechanism to bring back all sanctions lifted in the Iran deal. If the UK or France was to do so, it would run counter to US attempts to reach a new agreement.
According to the White House readout, Sullivan also discussed “our shared concern with Russia’s deepening military relationship with Iran and the importance of supporting Ukraine in the defense of its territory and citizenry, including from Iranian drones.”
Israel criticizes IAEA for actions regarding Iran
As Dermer and Hanegbi met with Sullivan, Israel criticized the International Atomic Energy Agency for agreeing to close investigations against an undeclared Iranian nuclear site in Marivan.
“Iran continues to lie to the IAEA and deceive the international community,” the Foreign Ministry warned.
“Iran continues to lie to the IAEA and deceive the international community.”Foreign Ministry
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has “an unequivocal and clear message to Iran and to the international community: Israel will do all that it must do to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is expected to meet with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin this month in Europe. Israeli ministers are not meeting with their counterparts in Washington until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is invited to the White House. That the invitation has not been forthcoming is widely seen in Jerusalem as a sign of tensions with the Biden administration, in light of the coalition’s judicial reform plan and its hardline positions on the Palestinians.
Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.