Israeli officials told Axios that the US had toughened its stance on certain Iranian demands in its response to an EU proposal to revive the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata was in Washington this week, where he met with his counterpart, Jake Sullivan, and Brett McGurk, the top Middle East official on the National Security Council.
The US officials briefed Hulata on their planned response to Iran and the EU before it was submitted. When Hulata arrived in Washington, the Israeli government was worried that the US would soften its stance on Iran, but by the time he left, those concerns were eased.
The report said the US refused two key Iranian demands. One was the easing of sanctions on companies that do business with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is designated by the US as a “terrorist organization.”
Iran earlier dropped its demand to have the IRGC designation lifted, but Tehran wants companies that make transactions with the IRGC to not be subject to sanctions. But according to the Axios report, the US has refused this proposal.
The other demand was concerning investigations into traces of uranium at undeclared nuclear sites being conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Tehran reportedly wanted the investigation to stop as part of a deal to revive the JCPOA, but the US did not agree.
The third issue was over a guarantee that Iran wants if the US withdraws from the JCPOA again. Tehran wants international companies that start doing business in Iran to have a 2.5-year grace period if the US leaves the JCPOA and reimposes sanctions. The Israeli officials said that Iran would only receive this benefit if it remained in the deal for that time.
Tehran is still technically a party to the JCPOA even though the US left in 2018. Because the US reimposed sanctions, Iran’s nuclear program is no longer bound by the JCPOA limits. But the requirement for the sanctions waiver would likely be that Iran must stay within those strict limits for the 2.5-year period.
On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that Israel’s pressure has worked and influenced the US response to the EU proposal. “The Americans accepted a large part of the things that we wanted them to include in the drafts,” Lapid said.
Iran is currently reviewing the US response, and Iranian officials haven’t said much about its contents. But the fact that Israel seems happy with the US response signals that it might not be enough sanctions relief for Iran to agree.