After the US said it was ready for talks with Iran over the 2015 nuclear deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement warning against a return to the agreement, known as the JCPOA.
“Israel remains committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons and its position on the nuclear agreement has not changed,” Netanyahu said. “Israel believes that going back to the old agreement will pave Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal. Israel is in close contact with the United States on this matter.”
Netanyahu’s claim that the agreement will pave the way for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon is not grounded in reality. A year after the US withdrew from the JCPOA, Iran began gradually increasing the activity of its civilian nuclear program.
In the latest move, Iran started enriching some uranium at 20 percent and producing uranium metal to make fuel rods to power an old nuclear facility. Netanyahu and other Iran hawks point to this activity as evidence that Iran is racing towards a bomb.
While 20 percent is nowhere near the 90 percent needed for weapons-grade uranium, if Netanyahu was really concerned about it, a revival of the JCPOA would solve the problem. Iranian officials have said again and again that they will immediately reverse these steps if the US lifts sanctions. If the US returns to the JCPOA, the agreement would limit Iran’s uranium enrichment at 3.67 percent.
It’s no secret that Israel opposes the JCPOA, and some Israeli officials have even threatened to attack Iran if President Biden revives the deal. A source told Reuters that the Biden administration consulted with Israel before announcing its willingness to talk with Iran, a sign that the US plans to keep Netanyahu informed on Iran policy.