Israel Is 'Very Worried' Iran Sanctions Will Be Removed Without Sufficient Nuclear Caps

Ahead of a fresh round of talks in Vienna, U.S. envoy promises 'increased pressure' if Iran uses it to boost its nuclear program

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a live interview in Tehran, Iran, broadcast on state-run TV last month.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a live interview in Tehran, Iran, broadcast on state-run TV last month.Credit: Iranian Presidency Office via AP
Reuters
Haaretz

Israel is "very worried" that world powers will remove sanctions on Iran in exchange for insufficient caps on its nuclear program, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday ahead of the resumption of negotiations in Vienna.

"This is the message that we are relaying in every manner, whether to the Americans or to the other countries negotiating with Iran," he told his cabinet in televised remarks.

Monday's indirect talks between the United States and Iran, with the participation of major powers, resume after a five-month hiatus.

The United States and its partners are likely to exert pressure on Iran if it uses the talks as a pretext to accelerate its nuclear program, the U.S. special envoy to Iran said in an interview broadcast on Saturday.

"If Iran thinks it can use this time to build more leverage and then come back and say they want something better it simply won't work. We and our partners won't go for it," envoy Robert Malley told BBC Sounds.

Robert Malley, US Special Envoy for Iran, last June.Credit: AP Photo/Florian Schroetter

Then-President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the 2015 agreement that had lifted sanctions in return for restrictions on Iran's atomic activities. He re-imposed debilitating sanctions, after which Tehran progressively expanded its nuclear work.

"If that's Iran's approach, which is to try to use the negotiations as cover for an accelerated nuclear program, and as I say, drag its feet at the nuclear table, we will have to respond in a way that is not our preference," said Malley, who heads up the U.S. negotiating team. "Nobody should be surprised if at that point there is increased pressure on Iran."

"We hope not to get that there, but if we are, then pressure will have to increase to send a message to Iran that the choice it is making is the wrong one. That it has a different path available to it, but it's not a path open indefinitely because Iran's nuclear program is putting the very essence of the deal negotiated (in 2015) at risk," he said.

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