Israel: US paving path to Iranian nuclear bomb with push to rejoin JCPOA

"Israel believes that going back to the old agreement will pave Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal."

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, US, February 5, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE/FILE PHOTO)
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, US, February 5, 2021.
Israel warned that the United States was helping Iran develop a nuclear weapons arsenal with its decision late Thursday night to push to rejoin the 2015 Iran deal.
"Israel remains committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons and its position on the nuclear agreement has not changed," the Prime Minister's Office said.
"Israel believes that going back to the old agreement will pave Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal. Israel is in close contact with the United States on this matter," it added.
From the onset, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had opposed the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran deal, that was agreed upon between Tehran and the six-world power: the US, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and China.
Former US President Donald Trump had exited the deal in 2018, which had been brokered during the tenure of the administration of former US President Barack Obama. Trump then reimposed crippling US sanctions on Iran, which had been lifted in exchange for the deal.
US President Joe Biden's administration has now formally declared its intent to seek a return to that deal and is willing to hold talks with Iran about rejoining the deal.
The European Union is working on organizing an informal meeting with all participants of the Iran nuclear deal and the United States, which has already signaled willingness to join any gathering, a senior EU official said on Friday.
No invitations have been sent and there is no time frame for the meeting, but world powers want to revive the nuclear deal as quickly as possible, the official said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that US sanctions must be rescinded before it would consider coming back into compliance with the deal.
When sanctions are lifted, "we will then immediately reverse all remedial measures. Simple," Zarif said on Twitter.
Highlighting the urgency of a diplomatic solution to the standoff, a senior Iranian official told Reuters that Tehran was considering Washington's offer to talk about the revival of the deal.
"But first they should return to the deal. Then within the framework of the 2015 deal, a mechanism to basically synchronize steps can be discussed," the official said.
Washington said on Thursday it was ready to talk to Iran about both nations returning to the nuclear accord that aimed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
"We have never sought nuclear weapons and this is not part of our defense doctrine," the official said. "Our message is very clear. Lift all the sanctions and give diplomacy a chance."
Tehran has set a February 23 deadline for Washington to begin reversing sanctions, otherwise, it says, it will take its biggest step yet to breach the deal - banning short-notice inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The United States and the European parties to the accord have urged Iran to refrain from that step and repeated their concerns over recent actions by Tehran to produce uranium enriched up to 20% and uranium metal.
"We have to implement the law. The other party must act quickly and lift these unjust and illegal sanctions if they want Tehran to honor the deal," said the official.
The IAEA's short-notice inspections, which can range anywhere beyond Iran’s declared nuclear sites, are mandated under the IAEA’s “Additional Protocol” that Iran agreed to honor under the deal. It signed up to the Protocol in 2003 but has not ratified it.
Earlier, Zarif said in an interview posted on a government site that the United States had not only failed to fulfill its obligations, but continues Trump's "failed maximum pressure" despite claiming it is ready to revive the nuclear agreement.
"Thus the Europeans must note that pressure on Iran does not work, nor are worthless remarks of any use," Zarif said, adding: "As soon as we see steps by the United States and Europe toward fulfilling their obligations, we will immediately react and return to our commitments.”
In London, UK junior foreign minister James Cleverly reiterated that Iran had to resume compliance with the deal, adding the West should not send signals that it is prepared to overlook Tehran's breaches of the accord.
Biden has said that he will use the revival of the nuclear deal as a springboard to a broader agreement that might restrict Iran’s ballistic missile development and regional activities.
Tehran has ruled out negotiations on wider security issues such as Iran’s missile program.