Mossad chief heading to US, but White House says position on Iran won’t change

Last ditch effort by top Israeli security officials will try to improve the Iran nuclear deal, but the White House is already saying no to any changes.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The IDF chief of staff has canceled his participation in a top Israeli defense and security delegation expected to arrive in the the United States this week, the military said Saturday.

The IDF said that owing to increased tensions from a rocket bombardment over the weekend by the Hamas terror organization in Gaza, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi would remain in Israel to handle security issues.

However, Mossad spy agency head Yossi Cohen; the head of the National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbat; and head of IDF intelligence Gen. Tamir Hayman are expected in Washington for a last ditch effort to get the Americans to back off from a direct return to the Iran nuclear deal.

It will be Cohen’s second trip to Washington this month.

He is expected to discuss intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program while pressing the Americans to add changes to the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The Israelis are pushing for improved oversight of Iran’s nuclear sites and permanent limitations of the amount of uranium Iran enriches – longstanding Israeli complaints over the shortcomings inherent in the JCPOA that the U.S. and major powers signed with Iran in 2015.

In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the Israeli delegation on Thursday together with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to discuss the points Israel will make to U.S. officials.

Netanyahu reportedly stressed that because Israel was not a signatory of the nuclear deal, it was not bound by it in any way.

On Friday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Biden Administration was firm in its position that the U.S. would rejoin the nuclear deal despite Israeli objections.

When asked if the visit by the high-level Israeli delegation had any chance of changing the administration’s position in rejoining the nuclear deal, Psaki replied in the negative.

“No,” she told reporters, adding, “As it relates to Israel, we have kept them abreast as a key partner of these discussions — or of our intentions, and we will continue to do that on any future visits.”

In order to ramp up pressure on the Americans, in a further violation of the JCPOA, Iran earlier this month started enriching uranium to 60% purity, a move the European Union condemned because its use would only be for nuclear weapons.

“There is no credible explanation or civilian justification for such an action on the side of Iran,” said European Union spokesman Peter Stano.

Also on Friday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said American policy is “compliance for compliance.”

“If Iran were to resume its full compliance with the JCPOA, we would do the same,” Price said at the daily State Department press briefing. “So the JCPOA, that original agreement, spells out precisely what is allowed, precisely what is prohibited in order for a country to be in compliance with it. That remains the blueprint for all of this.”