Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid met with US officials on Thursday and said if the Biden administration doesn’t “walk away” from the current Iran nuclear deal talks, it will show “weakness.”
“In the current situation, the time has come to walk away from the table. Anything else sends a message of weakness to Iran,” Lapid told US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), according to an Israeli official speaking to Axios.
The US is currently reviewing Iran’s response to an EU proposal to revive the deal, known as the JCPOA. Details of the proposal and Iran’s response aren’t clear, but Iran is reportedly seeking some guarantees if the US withdraws from the deal again, as it did in 2018.
The Israeli official told Axios that the EU proposal contains concessions to Iran, but the White House rejected that claim. White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said that the reports “that we have accepted or are considering new concessions to Iran as part of reentering the 2015 nuclear deal are categorically false.”
Lapid told the officials that “now is the time to sit and talk about what to do going forward in order to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” But if Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon were Israel’s real concern, they would favor a JCPOA revival since it puts strict limits on Iran’s nuclear program and makes it subject to the most stringent inspections in the world.
Other opponents of the JCPOA have stepped up their efforts to pressure the Biden administration not to rejoin the deal. A group of hawkish former US officials, including former National Security Advisor John Bolton, discussed military alternatives to the deal in Washington on Wednesday.
Bolton and the other former officials were joined by members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which is led by the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a controversial group of exiled Iranians that are considered to be a cult.