Blinken asks Bennett for alternative to Iran deal

US Secretary of State Tony Blinken asked Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and other Israeli officials for their alternative to a nuclear deal with Iran that will limit Tehran’s uranium enrichment, a senior State Department official and an Israeli official told me. .

Why it matters: After months of indirect negotiations between Iran and the Biden administration, a draft return to the 2015 nuclear deal is nearing completion.

  • The last remaining stumbling block is Iran’s demand that the Biden administration remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its blacklist of foreign terrorist organizations.
  • Israel, along with its Arab allies in the region, opposes a US return to the nuclear deal.

Behind the scenes: Israeli and US officials said the Iran issue was central to Blinken’s and Bennett’s meeting on Sunday, but despite the disagreement, the discussion was not tense.

  • Blinken asked Bennett his alternative to the nuclear deal and how he would prevent Iran from reaching nuclear weapons capability if its current rate of enrichment allowed it to do so within weeks.
  • Israeli officials said Bennett told Blinken Iran could be prevented from enriching uranium to the military level of 90% if it knows the US and European countries would increase sanctions to the level they have against Russia. set.
  • Bennett also told Blinken that the nuclear deal will only be a “band-aid” solution for a few years, while at the same time giving Iran billions of dollars it could use for its regional evil activities and to arm its proxies, Israeli officials said.
  • “It’s us here in the region who will have to deal with that later,” Bennett told Blinken, according to a senior Israeli official.

The Iran deal was also discussed at the Negev summit a day later.

  • Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s Egyptian, Moroccan, Emirati and Bahraini colleagues expressed concern about the nuclear deal and its regional implications, stressing that they oppose the Biden administration’s blacklisting of the IRGC from the FTO. removed, two senior Israeli officials told me.

Situation: Enrique Mora, the EU’s political director, was in Tehran on Sunday and met Iran’s top nuclear negotiator to try to find a compromise on the IRGC question.

  • Mora then traveled to Washington for talks with US envoy to Iran, Rob Malley.
  • Speaking at a conference in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday, Malley said he doesn’t think a nuclear deal with Iran is just around the corner.

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