By Elad Benari(A7) Are Prime Minister and US President Joe Biden headed towards a clash over the negotiations with Iran? A senior Israeli diplomatic official has criticized the resumption of nuclear talks with Iran, labelling these talks a “serious mistake”.
While the unnamed official, who was quoted on Channel 12 News on Friday, did not specifically mention the US, the comments could be perceived as problematic in Washington.
“The resumption of talks in Vienna is a serious mistake,” said the official. “Israel is doing everything it needs to move forward in its readiness for options in the ‘war between the wars’ and in activity in Iran and Syria.”
The comments come ahead of a visit to Israel by Robert Malley, the US Special Envoy for Iran.
Neither Prime Minister Naftali Bennett nor Foreign Minister Yair Lapid are expected to meet Malley during his trip to Israel, but the officials who will meet him will present him with very significant intelligence material, which shows that the Iranians are quickly advancing towards nuclear weapons and do not intend to take advantage of these talks to reach a longer or more serious agreement.
Israel, according to the Channel 12 News report, believes that the Iranians simply wish to stonewall. The Israelis have also come to the conclusion that the constellation in which the Iranians want to remove the sanctions that have been imposed on them only to return to the previous agreement despite the changes in reality, is not a good approach as far as Israel is concerned.
Last week, an Iranian diplomat said that the negotiations on a return to the nuclear deal, which had been stalled since President Ebrahim Raisi took office in June, will restart November 29 in Vienna.
A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Monday demanded that the US lift sanctions imposed on Iran as part of the nuclear talks and also reassure Iran it will not abandon the deal again.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said last week, after Iran announced the resumption of talks, that negotiations should pick up exactly where they left off and expressed optimism that outstanding issues could be resolved swiftly.
“We’ve said this many times before, but we believe it remains possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding on a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA by closing the relatively small number of issues that remained outstanding at the end of June when the sixth round concluded,” Price said.
He warned, however, that the US feels time is running short to reach an agreement.
“We believe that if the Iranians are serious, we can manage to do that in relatively short order, but we’ve also been clear, including as this pause has dragged on for some time, that this window of opportunity will not be open forever, and that, especially if Iran continues to take provocative nuclear steps,” Price stated.