US, Israel maintain talks on Iran nuclear diplomacy, safety threats | Joe Biden Information
Bilateral talks take place as Biden attempts to re-establish the Trump-backed, United Nations-backed Iranian nuclear deal from 2015.
Officials from the US and Israel met on video conference Thursday to discuss security challenges facing the two Middle Eastern countries, as well as the Biden government’s plan to resume diplomacy with Iran on nuclear weapons.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat attended the first bilateral US-Israel security meeting since President Joe Biden took office in January.
It came as the Biden government sought a return to a 2015 nuclear deal in which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.
“It is vital for the president and the government that Israel is informed of the plans as we approach diplomacy and embark on a diplomatic path to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” said Jen Psaki, press secretary of the White House.
For years Israel has criticized this international agreement and tried to derail it, from which the former US President Donald Trump withdrew unilaterally in 2018 in favor of his administration’s strategy of “maximum pressure” against the Iranian government.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who fought against the 2015 UN-backed agreement, recently hinted that Israel might take military action against Iran, The Associated Press reported.
“We are not placing our hopes on an agreement with an extremist regime like yours,” said Netanyahu in a recent speech against Iran. “With or without agreements – we will do everything we can to ensure that you do not arm yourself with nuclear weapons.”
Senior Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Benny Gantz, said Israel is updating contingency plans to attack Iran if it appears to escalate its nuclear activities.
Psaki said Biden was committed to a “diplomatic path” with Iran, and government officials believe the former Israeli opposition to diplomacy “calmed down a bit” after Iran showed while the deal was in force that it that it complies with the limits imposed on its enrichment of uranium.
“The advantage of on-site visibility was recognized. We don’t have that now. We haven’t had it since the Trump administration went out of business, “said Psaki.
“We are very familiar with the concerns Israel has raised and that is one of the reasons we are addressing them so closely on this and many other issues,” she said.
While the US and Israel have been firm allies for decades, the bilateral relationship reached new heights under Trump.
The Israeli national security advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat, who made comments here last year on the normalization of relations with Bahrain, represented Israel in the first bilateral security talks with the new Biden government [File: Ronen Zvulun/Pool Photo via AP]After withdrawing from the nuclear deal negotiated under his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, Trump imposed criminal economic sanctions on Iran. He moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognized Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights and cut funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
While Biden has announced that he will restore funding to the Palestinians, he has no plans to return the U.S. embassy to Tel Aviv and supports the Abrahamic Agreement brokered by Trump between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
The Palestinians rejected the Abraham Agreement as treason. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration plans to review some of the incentives and arms deals Trump offered under the agreements.
Blinken told US lawmakers on Wednesday that Biden was determined to consult with Israel and the Arab nations “on anything we could do in the future [the Iran nuclear agreement]”According to the Associated Press.