By Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom—
In the past few weeks, officials in Israel have been preparing for the sweeping policy changes expected with the start of the Biden administration, the top priority issue being the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Jerusalem is very concerned by statements from US President Joe Biden and other senior members of his administration that he intends to rejoin the 2015 deal, from which Biden’s predecessor withdrew in 2018.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated publicly a number of times that it would be a mistake for the US to rejoin the 2015 deal. Israel Hayom has learned that Netanyahu has underscored his position in closed-door talks, in which he said that the new US administration must refrain from lifting the harsh economic sanctions currently in place on Tehran until Iran agrees to significant changes to the original Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement.
Biden has made it clear that he is seeking a stronger, more long-term nuclear deal with Iran that would address issues not covered by the original JCPOA – particularly, Iran’s ballistic missile program, its nuclear warhead project, and its regional aggression. Biden agrees that the US needs to handle these issues, but the question of what the administration’s first step will be remains open.
Last month, Israel Hayom reported that some of Biden’s people are of the opinion that prior to the US lifting its sanctions against Iran, agreements must be reached on changes to the deal. However, other senior staffers say that to stop Iran’s recent regional provocations – including stepping up its uranium enrichment to 20% — the US must first re-adopt the original deal and reopen negotiations between Iran and the world powers, to be led by the US, for a “stronger, more long-term” nuclear deal.
Israel categorically rejects the second approach. Netanyahu and other senior officials are convinced that the US rejoining the JCPOA in its original format would be a huge prize for the Iranians, who would give nothing in return but who would enjoy in influx of cash into their shattered economy. Continue Reading….