Wednesday 14 June 2023

Netanyahu: Iran, U.S. Close To ‘Mini-Deal’ Israel Can Live With

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed officials on Tuesday about a potential nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran that Israel would be able to accept.

After a closed-door, three-hour meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Netanyahu stated that the deal was different than the Obama Era JCPOA (colloquially known as “The Iran Nuclear Deal”), indicating that Israel “could live with” the deal’s provisions.

“What’s on the agenda at the moment between Washington and Tehran is not a nuclear deal, it’s a mini-deal,” Netanyahu said, according to The Times of Israel. “We will be able to handle it.”

According to Israeli news sources, the deal would apparently include a cap on Iranian nuclear enrichment at its current 60% level, and the U.S. will loosen sanctions against Iran in return, releasing around $20 billion in Iranian assets. The two countries would also carry out a prisoner exchange.

A Biden administration spokesperson confirmed communication between the two countries, but denied that talks toward an interim agreement were taking place. The official characterized the claim as “false and misleading,” but did not close the door to future talks toward an interim deal, according to Reuters.

On Monday, Nasser Kanaani, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, also denied interest in an interim deal with Washington, but expressed willingness to return to the JCPOA. President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018.

The U.S. and Iran conducted indirect talks last month through Omani officials, Iranian government officials confirmed. The renewed talks come after previous talks between the two countries concerning a renewed nuclear deal stalled last year.

According to Axios, American negotiators focused on nuclear nonproliferation, emphasizing a “hefty price” for Iran if it reaches the 90% uranium enrichment level needed for a nuclear weapon, leaving military action on the table

An Israeli official warned Monday that the Jewish State would attack if Iran reached that enrichment level. In March, Israel told its American and European allies that Iranian progress above its current 60% level could trigger military action.

Iran has 251 pounds of uranium enriched to 60% purity, which Tehran claims is “for civilian purposes.” Despite the Iranians’ claim, nuclear nonproliferation experts say the country has no civilian use for uranium at this level of enrichment.

On Sunday, Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed support for an agreement with the West regarding Iran’s nuclear program, stating that “the existing infrastructure of the nuclear industry should not be touched.”

Netanyahu said Israel remained opposed to a return to the JCPOA and sent a message to the U.S. on Tuesday saying that Israel would not bind itself to any agreement between Washington and Tehran regarding Tehran’s nuclear program.

“More than 90 percent of our security issues stem from Iran and its [proxies],” he said, comparing them to a spreading cancer. “Our position is clear: Israel will not be bound by any deal with Iran and will continue to defend itself.”

Netanyahu added, “We are working to stop Iran and, on the other hand, we are making great efforts to expand the circle of peace. These things present us with great challenges, but also possibilities.”

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