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Mossad chief visits US as Iran nuclear talks stall

Mossad chief David Barnea was due to travel to Washington on Sunday to discuss Iran with senior officials in the Biden administration.

The trip comes days after renewed negotiations halted to reinstate the 2015 agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, with the United States saying the Iranians did not appear serious about concluding the move. ‘a deal.

The Haaretz daily reported that Barnea will seek to convince U.S. leaders not to seek an interim deal that does not see Iran revert to full compliance with the agreement, and will instead seek international support for tough sanctions against Tehran. .

The newspaper said the meetings were described as “extremely important”.

The espionage chief will stress that if an agreement with Iran is finally reached, Israel will not be bound by it and will continue its efforts to thwart the nuclear work of the Islamic Republic, according to the Ynet news site.

Barnea, who will act as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s emissary, also reportedly intends to present Americans with new information on the Iranian program.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz will travel to the United States later in the week for talks which are also expected to focus on Iran.

Barnea’s trip follows his promise on Thursday that Iran will never acquire nuclear weapons. He also said that a bad deal between Tehran and the world powers would be “intolerable” for Israel.

The Iranian flag flies in front of the building of the International Center with the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021 (AP Photo / Florian Schroetter, FILE)

On Saturday, a US official said Iran had moved away from all of its previous compromises on relaunching the 2015 nuclear pact and that this would not allow Iran to “slow down” international negotiations while simultaneously stepping up its negotiations. atomic activities.

“We cannot accept a situation in which Iran is stepping up its nuclear program and slowing down its nuclear diplomacy,” the senior US administration official said, echoing a recent warning from Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Speaking to reporters after returning from Vienna, the official said Washington was not yet considering withdrawing from the indirect talks it resumed with Tehran last week in the Austrian capital, but hoped Iran would return. “with a serious attitude”.

In this week’s talks, the official said, Iran reneged on any compromises it had made in months of previous talks on relaunching the deal, while retaining the compromises made by it. others and looking for more.

Iran came to Vienna “with proposals that amounted to nonsense – any of the compromises Iran had offered here in the six rounds of talks pocketed all the compromises that others, and the United States in particular had done and then demanded more, “the senior official quoted by Reuters said.

He said it was not clear when talks would resume and that Washington was “preparing for a world in which there is no return to the JCPOA,” a reference to the agreement’s official name, the Plan. common global action.

He said more sanctions would likely come if Washington concluded that Iran had killed the negotiations.

The seventh round of nuclear talks ended on Friday after five days in Vienna, with delegations returning to their national capitals and due to return to Austria next week.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani leaves Coburg Palace, venue of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) meeting to revive the Iran nuclear deal, in Vienna on December 3 2021 (Joe Klamar / AFP)

Iran’s chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, said the talks were on hold “because the opposing side had to consult their capitals to provide a documented and reasonable response to these [Iranian] the proposals. ”He said negotiations would resume in the middle of next week.

Blinken said on Friday that the negotiations had been halted because “Iran does not appear seriously at the moment to do what is necessary to return to compliance.”

And European diplomats have expressed “disappointment and concern” after Iran submitted two draft proposals that appeared to cancel months of dialogue.

Iran suspended talks in June after the election of ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi.

The official argued on Saturday that the United States had shown patience in allowing a five-month break in the process, but meanwhile the Iranians “continued to step up their nuclear program in particularly provocative ways.”

When Tehran finally returned to the table on Monday, he said, it was “with proposals that amounted to any of the compromises Iran had offered in the six rounds of talks.”

He accused Iran of seeking to “pocket all the compromises that others – the United States in particular – had made, and then ask for more.”

The official said he believed countries close to Iran were also upset with Tehran’s positions during recent talks.

At this point, he said the United States will continue diplomatic efforts – but reaffirmed that it has “other tools” at hand if negotiations fail.

Coburg Palace, the site of Iranian nuclear talks, is pictured in Vienna on November 29, 2021 (Vladimir Simicek / AFP)

The landmark 2015 nuclear deal – initially between Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia, and the United States – began to unravel in 2018 when the U.S. President then Donald Trump withdrew and reimposed the sanctions, prompting Iran to start overstepping the limits of its nuclear program. the next year.

US President Joe Biden has said he wants to re-enter the deal, and the US has indirectly participated in the talks this week.

Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.