Mossad chief to meet Biden to press Israeli demands on Iran nuclear deal: Report

Middle East Eye  /  January 24, 2021

Meeting within the next month would make Yossi Cohen the first senior Israeli official to meet with the US president.

Mossad head Yossi Cohen is set to meet with US President Joe Biden in Washington next month to discuss the Iran nuclear deal and Israel’s expectations for any overhaul of the treaty, Channel 12 news reported Saturday night.

Cohen, an major ally of Netanyahu, will be the first senior Israeli official to meet with US President Joe Biden, who was sworn in on 2o January.

In the first official contact between the Biden administration and the Israeli government, Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, and his US counterpart, Jake Sullivan, spoke by phone on Saturday.

US National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said the two men had “discussed opportunities to enhance the partnership over the coming months, including by building on the success of Israel’s normalisation arrangements with UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco” and that “Mr Sullivan confirmed the United States will closely consult with Israel on all matters of regional security”.

In Washington, Cohen is expected to lay out information on the developments of Iran’s nuclear programme that Israel has gathered and demand fundamental amendments to the deal signed between Iran and world powers in 2015. 

Israel’s expectations include stricter commitments from Iran in any new version of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that would guarantee that Tehran cannot obtain nuclear weapons, Channel 12 reported.

Despite Netanyahu repeatedly stating his opposition to the US re-joining the deal after the Trump administration’s withdrawal in 2018, Biden has expressed a willingness to re-join if Iran resumed strict compliance.

Israeli demands

According to Channel 12, Cohen will present the Biden administration with a list of components that Israel believes must be included in any renegotiated deal.

Those would include: Iran halting the enrichment of uranium and production of advanced centrifuges; an end to its support of armed groups, especially Lebanon’s Hezbollah; an end to its military interventions in around the region; and an end to its targeting of Israelis overseas.

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Washington would seek to lengthen and strengthen the nuclear constraints on Iran through diplomacy, and that the issue will be part of Biden’s early talks with foreign counterparts and allies.

Cohen, who has been Mossad chief for the past five years, is also expected to meet the new director of the CIA, William Burns, who played a leading role in negotiating the Iran nuclear deal.

On 11 January, Cohen met with the then US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, in Washington, ahead of an Israeli attack on Iranian targets in Syria, said to be aided by US intelligence, that left 57 people dead.