Israel's Mossad Chief Met With Biden Amid Attempts to Prevent Return to Iran Deal

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Joe Biden and Yossi Cohen.
Joe Biden and Yossi Cohen.Credit: Evan Vucci, AP / Moti Milrod

Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen met with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington on Friday, as Israel tries to persuade Washington not to re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which is currently being re-negotiated in Vienna through indirect talks.

“On Friday morning, Yossi Cohen met with Jake Sullivan and other national security officials at the White House to discuss regional security issues.  President Biden dropped by to express condolences for the tragedy at Mount Meron,” a National Security Council spokesperson told Haaretz following reports of the meeting.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefed Yossi Cohen before the meeting. Cohen also met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken Thursday, alongside Israel’s ambassador to Washington, in which the Israeli officials expressed "deep concern" about Iran's nuclear activities, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The meeting in Washington followed talks this week between U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart in which the Israeli delegation stressed their "freedom to operate" against Iran as they see fit, the source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

As President Joe Biden explores a possible U.S. return to the 2015 deal to contain Iran's nuclear program that his predecessor Donald Trump abandoned, Israel has stepped up calls for more sweeping curbs to be imposed on sensitive Iranian technologies and projects.

Sharpening Israeli warnings, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told Reuters on Thursday that war would be sure to follow if the United States and other powers reached what Israel considers a bad new nuclear deal with Iran.

Reiterating Israel's position that it does not consider itself bound by the diplomacy, Cohen said: "A bad deal will send the region spiraling into war."

The meeting of Blinken and his team with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan was the latest in a series of high-level contacts apparently aimed at allowing Israeli officials to air their grievances while seeking common ground on the Iran issue.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said on Saturday Tehran expects U.S. sanctions on oil, banks and other sectors and on most individuals and institutions to be lifted based on agreements reached so far at talks in Vienna, Iranian state media reported. The U.S. State Department did not issue an immediate response.

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