Biden, Lapid Discuss Iran Nuclear Deal as EU Says Agreement Could be 'Days' Away
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JERUSALEM, Israel – President Joe Biden spoke on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid Wednesday night amid signals from European leaders that negotiators are close to resurrecting the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which Israel opposes.
“Prime Minister Lapid and President Biden spoke at length about the negotiations on a nuclear agreement, and their shared commitment to stopping Iran’s progress towards a nuclear weapon,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “The leaders discussed recent events as well as Iran’s terrorist activity in the Middle East and beyond.”
The phone call came as the European Union announced that an agreement to restore the deal could be finalized “in the coming days.”
White House national security spokesman John Kirby confirmed the phone conversation during a press conference with reporters, saying the US believes an agreement is close.
“We do believe we’re closer now than we had been in certain recent weeks and months, due in large part to Iran being willing to drop some of their demands that were not related to the deal at all,” Kirby said.
Iran has demanded that the United Nations halt its probe into uranium particles detected at an undeclared nuclear site inside the country and remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from a US terror blacklist.
An unnamed Israeli official said Lapid got the impression that Biden is not willing to make any concessions on such issues, Axios reported.
Israel has made clear that whether there is a nuclear agreement or not, the Jewish state will defend itself through military force if necessary. The White House has also signaled to senior Israeli leaders that the United States is preparing a military option against Iran.
Negotiators in Vienna have spent the last 16 months trying to coax Tehran back into compliance with the nuclear deal, which placed limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions. Former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018, arguing that the deal was poorly negotiated and did not sufficiently address Iran’s activities in the Middle East. Since then, Iran has openly broken the terms.
Israel has long opposed the deal and Lapid warned last week that Iran would use billions of dollars in sanctions relief to “undermine stability in the Middle East and spread terror around the globe.”
Supporters of the deal, such as President Joe Biden’s administration, believe the original accord was effective in restraining Iran’s nuclear capabilities and argue that Iran has become more dangerous in the absence of an agreement.
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