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Bennett to tell Biden: Iran’s advanced enrichment makes nuclear deal worthless

CM 23/08/2021

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There is no value in returning to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in light of advances in Iran’s nuclear program, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett plans to tell US President Joe Biden in their meeting at the White House on Thursday.
Bennett is set to take off for Washington on Tuesday afternoon. While there, he will meet with Biden, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
For the prime minister, the core issue in the meetings is Iran. He is going to Washington after reviewing Israel’s policy on the matter but has reached similar conclusions as his predecessor.

“Bennett’s approach, after studying the topic in depth, from every angle, and conducting a policy review is that there is no value in returning to the [nuclear deal] because it does even less than it did in 2015 because the rate of Iran’s enrichment is so high,” a senior diplomatic source said, referring to Iran beginning to enrich uranium to a 60% level.
The plus sides of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which is meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program, are not worth the US lifting its sanctions on the Islamic Republic, giving it even greater resources to increase its regional aggression, the source added.
The US seeks to return to the JCPOA through talks with Iran, which it conducted indirectly in Vienna in April-June of this year. Iran has refused to return to the negotiating table after electing extremist President Ebrahim Raisi, who has made repeated anti-Western statements questioning the wisdom of even talking to the US.
Israel has opposed the JCPOA from its inception because its restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program end in 2030, and it does not address the Islamic Republic’s widespread regional aggression.
Echoing previous remarks by Bennett in the Knesset, the diplomatic source lamented the “difficult inheritance” the prime minister received from his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu, who “despite all the declarations and photo ops, Iran reached the most advanced stage in its nuclear program” on his watch.
Confronted with the fact that Bennett’s current statements do not sound substantively different from Netanyahu’s, the source said that Bennett is going beyond those statements, and has a plan of action that he intends to present to Biden.
The plan has two contingencies: How to handle the Iranian threat if the JCPOA is not revived, and a scenario that seems less likely, a return to the nuclear deal.
“The plan isn’t just about nuclear weapons. That was the problem with the JCPOA,” the diplomatic source explained. “It also addresses regional aggression, because Iran is in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Gaza and at sea and on UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicle]. They’re not just our problem, they’re the region’s and the world’s.”
Though the US officials Bennett plans to meet are very involved in the current crisis and the US pullout from Afghanistan, the prime minister preferred not to postpone, because the timing is important in relation to Iran.
The source rejected reports that Bennett plans to offer “gestures” to the Palestinians while in Washington.
“Concessions are part of diplomatic negotiations. There are no negotiations or anything close to it…. It is also wrong to say there are gestures. Our basic approach is that we are not entering negotiations, but that it is in our interest that the quality of life in Judea and Samaria improve in order to maintain stability and security,” the source said.
To that end, Bennett plans to emphasize economic projects for the Palestinians, but maintains his opposition to a two-state solution to the conflict, which he believes would be disastrous for Israel’s security. His view is that if his diverse governing coalition can accept opposing views on this matter, so can Israel and its greatest ally, the US.
Another source close to Bennett said the prime minister firmly opposes the reopening of a US consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem, on Israeli sovereign land, but hasn’t made public statements about it out of respect for the Americans.
The consulate had been closed by the Trump administration and merged with the US Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, and the Biden administration seeks to reverse that.
The Biden administration is aware that the issue has the potential to destabilize Bennett’s governing coalition, which they want to avoid, the source said.
When it comes to further normalization between Israel and Arab states, Israel and the US are engaged in constant diplomatic activity, and Bennett plans to tell Biden that he seeks to continue that activity in full force, with a focus on the potential and need for security cooperation.
Bennett’s team expects US criticism of Chinese investments in the Israeli hi-tech sector and necessary infrastructure, which began under the Trump administration and has continued under Biden, to come up in the meetings. The diplomatic source said Israel “sees this as a matter of our own national security, first and foremost, and we recognize US sensitivities.”
The prime minister does not plan to meet any members of Congress while in Washington, because of coronavirus restrictions, but he is expected to call some key members.
Bennett will not be staying at the Blair House, which is the White House’s guest house, because it is under renovation. His wife, Gilat Bennett, will not be joining him, in adherence to the prime minister’s admonition against unnecessary travel abroad during the current wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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