Israeli PM hopes to convince Biden to stay away from Iran nuclear deal
WASHINGTON: When the two leaders met at the White House on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hopes to convince President Joe Biden to stay away from Iran nuclear deal.
The meeting, which had been set for Thursday, was postponed for one day as Biden has been focusing on suicide bomb attacks at Kabul airport that killed at least 13 American troops.
“On behalf of the people of Israel, I share our deep sadness over the loss of American lives in Kabul,” Bennett said in a statement posted on social media. “Israel stands with the United States in these difficult times, just as America has always stood with us. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the United States.”
Bennett cleared the doubts before arriving in Washington that he would oppose the Iran deal, believing that Tehran has already advanced in its uranium enrichment and that lifting sanctions would provide Iran more resources to support Israel’s regional rivals.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met separately with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday to discuss Iran and other matters. This is his first trip to the United States as Prime Minister.
Bennett notified his Cabinet before the trip that he would inform the President Obama “that now is the time to halt the Iranians, to stop this thing” and not to reenter “a nuclear deal that has already expired and is not relevant, even to those who thought it was once relevant.”
Biden has stated his intention to find a way to save the landmark of 2015 agreement developed by Barack Obama’s administration but abandoned by Donald Trump in 2018. However, as regional tensions rise, US indirect negotiations with Iran have stopped, and Washington continues to impose severe sanctions on the country.
As a result of Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement, Tehran has gradually abandoned all of the accord’s restrictions on nuclear enrichment. In comparison to 3.67 percent under the agreement, the country currently enriches a modest amount of uranium up to 63 percent, a short distance from weapons-grade levels.
Bennett’s trip to Washington comes weeks after Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, was sworn in. Raisi, a 60-year-old conservative cleric with deep links to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has indicated that he will cooperate with the United States.
However, he has taken a hard line, rejecting talks aimed at curbing Iranian missile development and support for regional militias, which the Biden administration wants to address in a new agreement.
Bennett also wants to avoid the mistakes made by his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu had close ties with Trump after constant conflicts with Obama. Biden, who has met with every Israeli prime leader since Golda Meir, has had his own conflicts with Netanyahu.
Biden called Netanyahu “counterproductive” and an “extreme right” leader during his most recent White House campaign.
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