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December 23, 2021 1:17 pm
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Window for Further Iran Talks Will Close Within ‘Weeks,’ US National Security Adviser Tells Israeli Media

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani and delegations wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria December 17, 2021. EU Delegation in Vienna/EEAS. Photo: Handout via REUTERS

There are only “weeks” left to strike a nuclear agreement with Iran during negotiations in Vienna which are set to resume on Monday, according to US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

“We are not circling a date on the calendar in public, but I can tell you that behind closed doors we are talking about time frames, and they are not long,” Sullivan told Israel daily Haaretz during his visit to Israel.

The deadline for negotiators at talks between Iran and world powers to reach an agreement on salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will be within “weeks,” Sullivan added.

Two senior Israeli officials who attended the meetings with Sullivan in Jerusalem said that the US envoy made it clear that the window for further talks in Vienna could close by the end of January or the beginning of February, the Walla! news site reported.

The comments come as nuclear talks in Vienna are set to resume on Dec. 27 after being stalled amid frustration over the Islamic Republic’s abandonment of compromises achieved in previous sessions and its request for new demands. Sullivan on Wednesday engaged in face-to-face meetings with Israeli leaders and said that the US and Israel are both at a “critical juncture” on a “major set of security issues,” and need to develop a “common strategy, a common outlook.”

“There is still room for a diplomatic effort,” Sullivan said. “We intend to guarantee that Iran will not acquire nuclear weapons.”

The envoy stressed that with its partners the US will seek to achieve a good deal through a combination of pressure and determination. Any lifting of sanctions must be accompanied by limitations, Sullivan added.

Additionally, the Biden administration wants to make sure that existing sanctions are enforced and has been examining with other countries, including Israel, what pressure it might be able to exert in the future.

Israeli officials have been concerned over the possibility that the US might settle for a partial “less for less” agreement with Iran in exchange for the removal of sanctions, while leaving in place the nuclear advancements Iran has made over the past year.

Sullivan’s diplomatic visit to Israel appears to have eased some of the tensions that have built up in recent weeks and created a sense that the Biden administration was taking into account concerns that Israel has been voicing about the nuclear talks, according to Israeli senior officials.

During the talks Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz held with Sullivan, it became clear that the US administration was “in a better place than we thought” in its position on Iran, another Israeli senior official said.

The gaps between Israel and the US on the Iranian issue “turned out to be smaller than we previously thought,” the official added.

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