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Israel concerned by reports US-Iran nuclear deal imminent

Washington and Tehran are said to be close to an interim deal that would unfreeze billions of dollars for the regime.

Centrifuges at the Iran nuclear energy exhibition in the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense Museum in Tehran, 2018. Credit: Maps/Shutterstock.
Centrifuges at the Iran nuclear energy exhibition in the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense Museum in Tehran, 2018. Credit: Maps/Shutterstock.

Israel is worried by reports of an interim nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran being reached “in the coming days and weeks,” Israeli media reported on Monday. 

Specifically, Jerusalem is concerned about a deal that would allow the regime in Tehran to freeze part of its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of U.S. sanctions, according to Kan News

A source close to the White House told Kan that “diplomacy is the best way to stop Iran from having nuclear weapons,” and it was reported that messages have been broadcast between Washington and Tehran on the nuclear issue.

Centrifuges at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in Iran. Source: Twitter.

Iran International reported on Saturday that Washington and Tehran are close to a deal on the release of billions of dollars in frozen funds in exchange for the release of American hostages and “flexibility” in nuclear negotiations.

The money would reportedly come from frozen assets in Iraq and South Korea valued at up to $10 billion or more, according to Iranian officials.

U.S. sanctions bar Iraq from paying Iran for natural gas and electricity it imports, and South Korea owes Iran $7 billion for oil imported prior to May 2019, when former U.S. president Donald Trump imposed a fresh set of sanctions on Iran.

According to the Iran International report, in return Iran would be expected to take a less rigid approach to its nuclear program, and release three U.S. citizens held hostage in Iran—Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz—and two U.S. permanent residents—Jamshid Sharmahd and Shahab Dalili. All five are detained on espionage charges.

On Friday, Iran exchanged two prisoners with Belgium in a deal that was brokered by Oman.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told Kan on Monday that while there was “excellent cooperation” between the United States and Israel on Iran, which had resulted in several achievements, “The State of Israel relies first and foremost on itself.”

Cohen is currently on a diplomatic trip to central Europe, and met in Zagreb on Monday with Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen attends a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Jan. 25, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid said that an interim agreement would be “dangerous” and that “every effort” must be made to prevent one.

“It is possible that such an agreement will make it difficult for us to act—and we must do everything to prevent this from happening,” he said, according to Kan

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