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Gallant in Brussels to talk Iran with US counterpart

"We will discuss our shared commitment to ensuring that Iran will never gain military nuclear capabilities,” says the Israeli defense minister.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speak to reporters near Ben-Gurion Airport, March 9, 2023. Credit: GPO.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speak to reporters near Ben-Gurion Airport, March 9, 2023. Credit: GPO.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant arrived in Brussels on Thursday for talks with his U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin that will focus on the Islamic Republic.

“During the meeting, we will discuss our shared commitment to ensuring that Iran will never gain military nuclear capabilities,” said Gallant ahead of his departure.

“In anticipation of this discussion, I met with the Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] and senior defense officials, and reviewed the measures required to ensure Israel’s qualitative edge in the Middle East region,” he added.

The development comes amid reports that Washington and Tehran are close to reaching an informal agreement on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

The agreement, which two Israeli officials called “imminent,” would limit Iran’s uranium enrichment to its current production level of 60%. Iran would also promise to put a stop to attacks against American contractors in Syria and Iraq by the regime’s terrorist proxies.

Additionally, Iran would commit to increasing its cooperation with international nuclear inspectors and halting ballistic missile sales to Russia.

In exchange, the United States would agree not to ratchet up economic sanctions, to stop confiscating Iranian oil as occurred in April, and to not seek punitive resolutions against Iran at the United Nations or at the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Tehran reportedly also wants the United States to unfreeze billions of dollars in Iranian assets in exchange for the release of three Iranian-American prisoners, although Washington has not confirmed that this is part of the possible deal.

Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Jerusalem can accept the emerging “mini-agreement.”

“This is not the agreement we know—this is an agreement which we will know how to deal with,” the prime minister said, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers opposed by Israel and dropped by U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018.

While in Belgium, Gallant will hold meetings with European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi and with leaders of the Jewish community at the Great Synagogue of Europe (formerly known as the Great Synagogue of Brussels).

Gallant is then slated to travel to Paris to participate in the biennial Le Bourget Airshow. He will tour the Israeli national pavilion and deliver remarks during the inauguration ceremony.

Gallant will also meet his counterparts from France, Italy, Hungary and Romania.

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