Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant will meet his U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin in an unspecified European city on Thursday amid reports Washington is closing in on an agreement with Iran.
The deal would not entail a full return to the 2015 nuclear accord but rather constitute an interim agreement in which Washington would release some Iranian assets frozen under international sanctions in exchange for a commitment by Tehran to halt uranium enrichment and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to restore supervision over nuclear facilities, Ynet reported on Sunday.
Israel is against such a development and is instead advocating the projection of a credible military threat to stop Tehran in its tracks.
American and Iranian officials held indirect talks in Oman in May, Axios reported on Friday.
The U.S. team was led by White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk, and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister and top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani headed the Iranian delegation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking during Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, said, “Last Thursday, I spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was on his way home from Saudi Arabia. We spoke at length about a series of topics, especially Iran….
“I reiterated our consistent position, that returning to the nuclear agreement with Iran will not stop the Iranian nuclear program and will only enable Iran to channel funds to the terrorist organizations that it sponsors in the Middle East and around Israel’s borders,” said Netanyahu.
“I reiterated that no arrangement with Iran will be binding on Israel. With or without an agreement, we will continue to do whatever is necessary to defend the State of Israel,” he added.
The Israeli leader last week slammed what he described as the International Atomic Energy Agency‘s “surrender” to Iran, describing it as a “black mark” on the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s record.
It came after confidential reports showed that the U.N. nuclear watchdog closed two investigations into Iranian nuclear sites.
The IAEA decided to close the probe on traces of man-made uranium at the undeclared Marivan site in Abadeh County, in the southern province of Fars. The agency also closed its investigation regarding the underground Fordow facility after inspectors found uranium particles enriched to 83.7%.
Iran’s estimated stockpile of enriched uranium has surpassed 23 times the limit set in the 2015 nuclear accord, according to the IAEA.
“The IAEA’s ineffectual conduct in the face of these weak excuses conveys a message to Iran’s rulers that they need not pay any price whatsoever for their violations, and that they can continue deceiving the international community with their efforts to obtain nuclear weapons,” said Netanyahu.