'Our Position Has Not Changed': Netanyahu Slams Iran Deal After U.S. Says It's Ready to Reopen Negotiations

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Israeli PM Netanyahu, last year.
Israeli PM Netanyahu, last year.Credit: YOAV DUDKEVITCH / POOL / AFP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his disagreement after the Biden administration said Thursday the United States were ready to join talks with Iran and world powers to discuss a return to the 2015 nuclear deal.

"Israel remains committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons and its position on the nuclear agreement has not changed," a statement from Netanyahu's office said, " Israel believes that going back to the old agreement will pave Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal."

The statement added that Israel was "in close contact with the United States on the matter."

The Biden administration informed Israel in advance that it planned to announce on Thursday it was ready to talk to Iran about Washington and Tehran returning to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, a source told Reuters.

Biden's aides wanted to avoid blindsiding Israel, Iran's regional arch-foe, over the U.S. plans, which included telling the UN Security Council the new administration was rescinding former President Donald Trump's assertion that all UN sanctions had been reimposed on Iran in September.

The White House also announced the reversal of the Trump administration’s determination that all UN sanctions against Iran be restored and eased stringent restrictions on the domestic U.S. travel of Iranian diplomats posted to the United Nations.

The State Department said the U.S. would accept an invitation from the European Union to attend a meeting of the participants in the original agreement. The U.S. has not participated in a meeting of those participants since former President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks speaks during a visit by U.S. President Joe Biden to the State Department this monthCredit: TOM BRENNER / AP

“The United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Such an invitation has not yet been issued but one is expected shortly, following discussions earlier Thursday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his British, French and German counterparts.

Blinken reiterated the U.S. position that President Joe Biden's administration would return to the accord formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if Iran came into full compliance with the deal.

London, Paris and Berlin welcomed Biden's intention to return to diplomacy with Iran. But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif fired back that it was for Washington to make the first move.

Iran began breaching the deal in 2019 after former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal and reimposed economic sanctions.

Tehran has accelerated its breaches in recent months and become locked in a standoff with Biden's administration over who should move first to save the accord.

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