On Wednesday, October 13, 2021, US and Israeli officials told Axios that the Biden administration faces a new dilemma as the nuclear negotiations with Iran continue to be frozen. Washington fears whether the pressure it is exerting on Iran will benefit and push them to return to the 2015 agreement, or will push them to escalate the nuclear program.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in their meeting at the White House on Tuesday that Israel feared Iran would become a “nuclear threshold state,” and told Lapid Sullivan that in light of the current impasse a plan was needed. alternative to the nuclear agreement.
US concern about pressure on Iran
Israeli officials told Axios that this dilemma was the focus of the latest round of US-Israel strategic talks on Iran’s nuclear program last week.
The Israeli side put pressure on the American team, headed by Sullivan; To put more pressure on Iran, through additional sanctions and sabotage operations against the nuclear program, and warnings of the possibility of a military option on the table if Iran continues its nuclear provocations, according to Israeli officials.
The US side agreed on the need to counter recent Iranian actions, but expressed concern that such steps might generate a violent Iranian response.
Sources familiar with the talks said that sabotage attempts to damage an advanced centrifuge facility in Iran, which Tehran attributed to Israel, prompted the Iranians to step up their program and provided an excuse to restrict access to UN inspectors.
The Israelis then asked the American side if it had a deadline to end the current impasse and take any steps against Iran, Israeli officials told Axios.
The American side responded that it hoped that the increased pressure on Iran from Russia and the faltering Iranian economy would lead the Iranians back to the nuclear agreement, and one of the decisions that resulted from the US-Israeli talks was the formation of joint working groups to assess the Iranian economy, identify pressure points, as well as identify steps against Iran, which could backfire.
An Israeli official told the American website that the American dilemma is real, and Israel understands it. “We know they are looking for the right balance, but we want to know how long it will take,” he added.
A senior US official told Axios, “Given the pressure on Iran, we want to see which steps will be effective, and which steps may be counterproductive. So we are engaged in detailed strategic talks with partners and allies, about what steps will really lead us to Our common goal is to ensure that Iran will never be able to develop a nuclear weapon.”
But the US envoy to Iran, Rob Malley, gave a more pessimistic assessment of the place of the nuclear talks during a hypothetical event, today, Thursday, October 14, at the Carnegie Endowment. Options to deal with that, that’s what we’re doing while we hope they come back into the deal.”
Mali added that he will go to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar in the coming days to discuss the Iranian file.
European visit to Tehran
This comes at a time when the European Union coordinator on Iran, Enrique Mora, plans to visit Tehran on Thursday, a visit that diplomats from the British, French and German Troika said comes at an important time as Iran continues to make progress on its nuclear program. One of these diplomats said: “The nuclear situation is constantly and severely worsening,” referring to Iran’s acceleration of uranium enrichment to higher purity, which is a possible path to making a nuclear bomb. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the nuclear deal).
It is noteworthy that the nuclear negotiations between Tehran and Washington, which are held under the auspices of the European Union, aim at Washington’s return to the agreement that the administration of former US President Donald Trump withdrew from in May 2018, and to push Iran to abide by its international commitments related to the nuclear program.
After Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi won the June 18 elections, these negotiations were suspended in Vienna.