Middle East Eye / December 30, 2020
Israeli official dismisses earlier suggestion by ambassador to Germany that Israel may be open to expanded deal with Iran, Jerusalem Post reports.
Israel categorically opposes the re-implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, an Israeli official told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, dismissing suggestions that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be open to expanding the agreement.
“Israel is unequivocal that under no circumstances should there be a return to that bad deal,” the Israeli publication quoted an anonymous official in the prime minister’s office as saying.
Last week, Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, told the AFP news agency that German efforts to broaden the deal to address Iran’s ballistic missile programme were a “step in the right direction”.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had called for a “nuclear plus” agreement that would address Iran’s nuclear programme as well as other outstanding issues between the West and Tehran.
“We have clear expectations from Iran: No nuclear weapons, but also no ballistic missile programme which threatens the entire region,” Maas said early in December in an interview with Der Spiegel.
Still, Germany and its fellow European signatories to the deal – France and the UK – have repeatedly called for a return to the agreement, welcoming US President-elect Joe Biden’s commitment to abide by the pact.
On Wednesday, the Israeli government distanced itself from Issacharoff’s apparent support for the German effort, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“In contrast to the impression given in the interview with the Israeli ambassador in Germany, Israel firmly believes that there should be no return to the Iran nuclear agreement of 2015 – a deal which is flawed to its foundations,” the Israeli official said.
The source added that the ambassador’s remarks were misrepresented.
The multilateral pact, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saw Iran scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against its economy.
In 2018, US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the agreement. Since then, his administration has been piling sanctions on Iranian industries and individuals as part of his “maximum pressure” campaign.
In turn, Tehran has loosened its adherence to the JCPOA. After the assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last month, the Iranian parliament passed a law to further increase uranium enrichment.
The legislation, which has not been implemented, also calls for expelling inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, if American sanctions against Tehran are not lifted by February.
Biden, who will replace Trump on 20 January, has vowed to return to the pact. Earlier this month, he said curbing Iran’s nuclear programme by returning to the agreement would be a priority for his administration – ahead of broader negotiations over other issues with Tehran.
Netanyahu has been an outspoken critic of the JCPOA since before it was fully adopted.
“There must be no return to the previous nuclear agreement. We must stick to an uncompromising policy to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons,” the Israeli leader said in a speech last month.