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As Vienna Talks Stall, Israel Calls for New ‘Tools’ Against Iran Nuclear Program

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., U.S. August 25, 2021. Olivier Douliery/Pool via REUTERS

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for the United States to use a “different toolkit” against Iran’s developing nuclear program, as the first round of talks in months between Tehran and world powers showed little progress.

Indirect negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which resumed last week after a five-month freeze, broke off on Friday. US officials have complained that Iran had come to the table having abandoned compromises reached during earlier discussions.

“The first round of talks between Iran and the major powers in Vienna has ended without results,” Bennett said at the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday. “The Iranians, as expected, are proficient negotiators. They backtracked from previous agreements and came with a very strong and thuggish approach.”

“Our goal is to utilize the window of opportunity that has opened between the rounds in order to tell our friends in the US: this is precisely the time to use a different toolkit against Iran’s galloping forward in the enrichment sphere,” he continued.

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Bennett cited revelations that Iran had begun producing enriched uranium with more advanced centrifuges at its Fordow plant, news that emerged just as representatives from Iran and the US were gathered in Vienna with the UK, China, France, Germany and Russia.

“The goal of the Iranian regime is the lifting of sanctions,” the Israeli prime minister continued Sunday. “For this they went to Vienna with dozens of advisors and sanctions experts, because this their goal: the ability to do what they are doing now regarding terrorism and in the nuclear sphere, only this time they want to be strengthened by tens of billions of dollars and a tailwind for all of their activity.”

“I call on every country negotiating with Iran in Vienna to take a strong line and make it clear to Iran that it is impossible to negotiate and enrich uranium at the same time,” he said.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Director of the Mossad David Barnea will depart for Washington, DC in the coming days, Bennett said, to discuss the Iran file. Barnea, set to travel Sunday, is expected deliver new information about Tehran, Israel’s N12 news reported.

“A bad deal with the Iranians will have implications for our national security,” Bennett said. “Therefore, there is a time for everything. A time to keep silent and a time to speak. Now is the time to speak.”

The talks in Vienna, which froze after the election of the hardline Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in June, could continue as early as this week.

An Iranian official quoted by Iran’s Tasnim news agency on on Sunday blamed the US’ “reluctance to give up sanctions altogether” as the main obstacle. Western officials have said that Tehran has stalled for time since the negotiations first suspended, and has not come to the latest round in good faith.

“Over five months ago, Iran interrupted negotiations. Since then, Iran has fast-forwarded its nuclear program,” officials from France, Britain and Germany said in a statement Friday. “This week, it has back-tracked on diplomatic progress made.”

“Iran right now does not seem to be serious about doing what’s necessary to return to compliance,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Reuters Next Conference. “If the path to a return to compliance with the agreement turns out to be a dead-end, we will pursue other options.”

Iranian state TV reported Saturday that a blast heard over the Iranian city of Natanz, which houses nuclear sites, was caused by an air defense exercises to test a rapid reaction force. Israel did not officially comment on the incident, but Israeli media outlets quoted unnamed intelligence sources describing a successful sabotage operation on the underground nuclear complex there.

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