Americans float interim Iran deal idea – Israel opposes

Jerusalem fears that any temporary agreement could become permanent, without key provisions being addressed.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Americans have floated an idea to Israel of having an interim agreement with Iran to freeze the mullahs’ nuclear enrichment, as a prelude to returning to the full 2015 deal, Barak Ravid reported Thursday in both Axios and Walla. Jerusalem opposes the proposal.

American National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reportedly raised the issue with his Israeli counterpart, Dr. Eyal Hulata, a few weeks ago. The source of the proposal lay in one of the European capitals involved in talks with the Islamic Republic.

Two American sources told Ravid that it had come up in the course of a “brainstorming” phone call between the two, and that it was only a broad outline, with no concrete details. The general idea was that the United States would unfreeze some Iranian assets or waive sanctions on certain humanitarian supplies in exchange for Iran halting parts of its nuclear program, such as enriching uranium to 60%, which is a very short step below weapons-grade material.

Hulata was reportedly unimpressed with the proposal, saying that Israel was afraid that the “interim” agreement could become the permanent one. This would mean that Iran could keep all the uranium it has enriched to levels far beyond those allowed in the original deal, as well as all the nuclear infrastructure it has built and strengthened over recent months.

This would tremendously shorten the “breakout” time if the mullahs decided to go for a bomb at any point in the future.

Hulata raised the same objections with Robert Malley, the U.S. point man on Iran who came to Israel this week as part of a consulting tour of American allies in the region prior to the resumption of indirect nuclear talks with Iran, which are supposed to resume at the end of the month.

Jerusalem wants to maintain pressure on Iran, believing that this is the only way to make progress with the Shiite state that is Israel’s main strategic threat. According to Ravid’s sources, Hulata told both Sullivan and Malley that the U.S. and Europe should use their influence to have the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) censure Iran in its meeting next week for blocking IAEA inspectors from entering various nuclear sites in the country.

It is unclear what impact such a message to Iran would have on the resumption of the nuclear negotiations.

The IAEA has publicly expressed its disappointment several times recently over Iranian intransigence. Last Friday, IAEA head Rafael Grossi said that it was “astonishing” that aside from some “technical discussions,” he has “not had any contact with this government… that has been there for more than five months.”

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