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February 15, 2022 10:46 am

Israel Dispatches Envoy to Iran Nuclear Talks in Vienna for First Time

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria November 29, 2021. EU Delegation in Vienna/Handout via REUTERS

In a rare move, Israel has dispatched an envoy to the ongoing talks in Vienna on Iran’s nuclear program in order to meet with the heads of the US negotiating team, as well as other nations involved in the talks, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

Envoy Joshua Zarka, the Deputy Director General for Strategic Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, has already met with Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi, according to Israeli news site Walla, and is set to meet Tuesday with the heads of the various negotiating teams.

An unnamed top Israeli official told Walla that Zarka would meet with all parties to the negotiations except the Iranians themselves.

The decision to send Zarka to Vienna was reportedly made after a situation assessment at the Foreign Ministry last week, at which Foreign Minister Yair Lapid agreed to the proposal.

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This marks the first time Israel has sent such an envoy since the Vienna talks began following US President Joe Biden taking office.

The negotiations in Vienna are believed to be at a critical stage, with Israel concerned that the US and other world powers will agree to concessions leading to a weakened version of the 2015 nuclear deal, from which the US later withdrew.

Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett again urged Biden not to sign a deal with Iran, reportedly asserting that failing to reach a deal would have minimal consequences.

“Nothing will happen if you don’t sign it,” Bennett reportedly told Biden.

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