Iran Confirms Significant Progress Toward Nuke Deal, Ready to Talk to Saudis

Minister says Israel will address its misgivings about the emerging new Iran nuke deal in future bilateral arrangements with the United States

Reuters
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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi boarding a plane as he departs to Qatar at Mehrabad airport in Tehran, today
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi boarding a plane as he departs to Qatar at Mehrabad airport in Tehran, todayCredit: - - AFP
Reuters
Reuters

Significant progress has been made in talks between Tehran and world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday.

The official, Saeed Khatibzadeh, added that Tehran is ready to hold talks with Saudi Arabia.

Also Monday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Qatar for a summit of gas exporting countries, Iran's state news agency IRNA reported.

IRNA said Raisi is leading a delegation to the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Doha, designed to develop economic, energy and political cooperation between Iran and Qatar. It is Raisi’s first foreign trip since he took office in August.

IRNA said five ministers, including those leading the country's foreign and oil policies, accompanied the Iranian president.

At the news conference, Raisi said that the United States should prove its will to lift sanctions.

Israel, which is not a party to nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers in Vienna, has voiced concern that they could produce a revived deal that “create(s) a more violent, more volatile Middle East”.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Israel "is deeply troubled" by the new agreement taking shape on Iran's nuclear program and warned that it is "likely to create a more violent and less stable Middle East."

Delivering a speech to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, Bennett said that "Israel won't accept Iran as a nuclear threshold state." He added that Israel has a "clear and unnegotiable red line: it will always maintain its freedom of action to defend itself.

Earlier on Monday, an Israeli official said that Israel will address its misgivings about an emerging new Iran nuclear deal in future bilateral arrangements with the United States.

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, a member of Israel's decision-making security cabinet, said that as a center-left opposition lawmaker in 2015 she had supported the then-nuclear deal with Iran – which the Trump administration later withdrew from.

But, she said, “this (emerging) deal is much shorter, with many more sunsets, with many, many more – I would say – bad opportunities, cracks. And yes, it's very, very problematic”.

“So we are doing whatever we can to make it as best as possible,” Michaeli, speaking in English, told the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem.

“We will have to work on a complementary agreement between Israel and the U.S.”

She did not elaborate. Israeli leaders have previously asserted that their country would not be bound by any nuclear deal and could take unilateral military action against their arch-foe if they believed it was required to deny it nuclear weapons. Iran denies seeking such weapons.

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