US reportedly discusses possible interim Iran nuclear deal with Israel, other allies
The US has discussed with its allies a proposal to resume talks with Iran aimed at reaching an interim agreement to freeze Iran’s nuclear program, according to reports on Monday.
Iran has gone ahead with enrichment activity in recent months and talks on overhauling the 2015 nuclear deal have stalled.
US officials have told their counterparts in Israel, France, the UK and Germany that they are considering proposing a deal in which Tehran would limit nuclear enrichment above 60 percent purity, a level close to weapons-grade levels, in exchange for sanctions relief, the Axios and Walla. reporting news websites.
US officials began discussing the proposal in January, and US allies were briefed on the idea in February, according to the reports, which cited 10 sources, including Israeli officials and Western diplomats.
Iran is aware of the US proposal, but the Iranians are not on board, saying they just want to return to the full agreement, the reports said.
The White House told the news sites in response that it “declines to comment on second-hand rumors.”
The US National Security Council said President Joe Biden is committed to stopping Iran “and we continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve that objective.”
Talks between Iran and the United States to revive the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), resumed in 2021, but collapsed last year, after months of stalling. progress. Israel opposed resuming the agreement.
Iran and the Western powers that are parties to the talks reached a number of interim measures to freeze enrichment and suspend sanctions in the years leading up to the 2015 JCPOA agreement.
The Biden administration has long supported a diplomatic path to halting Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but talks stalled when Iran began backing Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, cracking down on domestic rights protest, affecting the United States and other Western countries.
Further raising tensions, inspectors from the United Nations nuclear watchdog in February found particles of uranium enriched to 83.7 percent in Iran’s underground Fordo nuclear site.
Uranium is almost 84% at almost weapons-grade levels of 90% – meaning that any stockpile of that material could be quickly enriched to build an atomic bomb if Iran wanted to. The inspectors reported finding only “particles” at that level, which would suggest Iran was not yet stockpiling above 60% – the level it has been enriching for some time, which non-proliferation experts say already has no civilian use for Tehran.
The US intelligence community has continued to assess that Iran is not pursuing an atomic bomb, but American officials have said that Iran could produce enough fissile material for a weapon within weeks and that it would only take months. additional to assemble a weapon for use.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened military action against Tehran, and Israel and Iran have been engaged in a high-stakes shadow war across the wider Middle East since the collapse of the nuclear deal.
Tensions between Israel and Iran have risen in recent weeks amid a series of airstrikes blamed on Israel in Syria, a terror attack in northern Israel believed to have been carried out by an intruder from Lebanon, and threats between Israeli officials and the Iran.
Israel has admitted that it has carried out hundreds of attacks against Iranian-backed groups trying to gain a foothold in Syria over the past decade. It is alleged that two Iranian advisers were killed in Israeli airstrikes in Syria in the past month.
A military source said on Monday that Iran appeared to be behind the launch of a drone that was brought down over Israeli airspace this week.