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April 26, 2021 2:00 pm
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Israeli Security Officials Head to Washington to Share Iran Threat Intel as White House Says It Can’t Be Swayed on Nuclear Deal

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

European External Action Service (EEAS) Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora and Iranian Deputy at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abbas Araghchi wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria April 17, 2021. Photo: EU Delegation in Vienna/Handout via REUTERS.

A high-profile Israeli security delegation, headed by Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, is arriving in Washington this week to discuss the dangers of restoring the original 2015 Iranian nuclear accord just days after the White House signaled that the Biden administration will not be swayed to change its policy on the deal.

Ahead of the arrival of the delegation of Israeli senior security officials, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Friday answered “no” when asked at a press briefing whether the visit was likely to change the US administration’s stance on reviving the nuclear deal, to which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is strongly opposed.

Despite Psaki’s statement, Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs argued that that “it is important that Israel shares all the relevant intelligence on Iran and articulates what the problem is with negotiating with Iran.”

“The most persuasive arguments are made face-to-face,” Gold, who served as Director-General of the Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2015, told The Algemeiner. “In the past Israel and the US had different assumptions on Iranian behavior, which have now become even more pronounced. Iran’s record of compliance with signed agreements is very weak.”

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The visit by the Israeli intelligence delegation comes as indirect deliberations between the US and world powers on the restoration of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have “entered the drafting stage,” according to participants. US President Joe Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, abandoned the nuclear deal in 2018 and instead imposed heavy sanctions.

Michael Oren, Israel’s former Ambassador to the US, told The Algemeiner that he is concerned about the symbolic significance of the Israeli delegation traveling to Washington after the White House comments on Friday.

“This is kind of humiliating after Israel’s important ally in the Middle East said it will not listen. I would be very hesitant in sending this delegation,” Oren commented. “If we are going back to the JCPOA, which is flawed, there could be a very dangerous outcome.”

“There is a lot of visual appearance in this in that it shows that there was consultation with Israelis. We should be very careful to legitimize the agreement,” Oren warned.

Netanyahu has reportedly advised the security delegation to explain to the US intelligence community the dangers of returning to the 2015 nuclear deal rather than focus on a discussion on the current talks in Vienna. Israel’s National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat, who is also part of the delegation, is expected to meet with his US counterpart Jake Sullivan. IDF chief of staff Aviv Kochavi decided to postpone his trip to Washington amid rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

“There are ongoing discussions — or negotiations, I should say, that are happening now — they’re indirect, of course — on the potential for a diplomatic path forward on the new — on a nuclear deal,” White House’s Psaki said on Friday. “As it relates to Israel, we have kept them abreast as a key partner of these discussions — or of our intentions, and we will continue to do that on any future visits.”

Commenting on the ongoing talks in Vienna, Gold noted that “there is a real dilemma, because if you remove sanctions there is a huge windfall of funds that becomes available for terrorist activities in the Middle East and around the world. At least the Biden administration is talking about a longer and stronger deal but I don’t think that the Iranians will agree.”

Gold suggested that before sanctions are lifted Iran needs to demonstrate that it has changed direction that it will not help the Hezbollah in missile inventory, and that it is prepared to confine itself to the terms of a deal.

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