Israel concerned Iran will secure sanctions relief without rolling back nuclear program

Analysts believe talks are more likely to fail than bring about a new agreement.

By Sharon Wrobel, The Algemeiner

Israel is concerned that Iran may secure a full removal of sanctions without sufficiently turning back the clock on its nuclear program, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said ahead of the resumption of negotiations in Vienna on Monday.

“The nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers will renew in the coming days in Vienna. Israel is very disturbed by the willingness to lift the sanctions and allow billions [of dollars] to flow into Iran in exchange for insufficient restrictions in the nuclear sphere,” Bennett said at his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday. “This is a message that we are passing along however we can, to the Americans and to the other countries that are negotiating with Iran.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who embarked on a diplomatic trip to Europe on Sunday, is expected to raise these concerns during meetings in London and Paris this week.

“It is very important that in matters having to do with national security, that the government speaks in one voice,” Bennett added.

During his tour, Lapid will meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as the top diplomats in Britain and France. The visit will deal with the resumption of nuclear talks in Vienna, as well as the deepening of bilateral relations between Israel and the host countries, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.

Indirect talks between Iran, the European Union, China, and Russia on the possibility of returning to the 2015 nuclear deal will resume in Vienna more than five months after the end of the previous round — “a very protracted pause,” said Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative for Vienna-based international organizations.

“Most likely from now on the time factor will play a greater role. The talks can’t last forever. There is the obvious need to speed up the process,” Ulyanov tweeted.

The top Iran expert at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Sima Shine, said the talks are more likely to fail than to result in a full return to the original nuclear deal.

“The US administration and its partners in dialogue with Iran are already being flooded with other ideas, whose feasibility is doubtful,” Shine and senior research fellow Eldad Shavit wrote ahead of this week’s talks. “The most likely scenario for the coming months is not having a decision while maintaining the diplomatic framework of the talks.”

“Israel’s adherence to a position that rules out diplomatic solutions stands to undermine its relevance to the international processes and will make it more difficult for Israel to prevent the adoption of measures contrary to its interests,” they added.

Last week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz reiterated Israel’s stance that the country must “build a military capability” to counter Iran’s nuclear activities, should diplomatic efforts fall through.