U.S. officials who visited Israel with CIA Director William Burns believe that the chances of Iran returning to the 2015 nuclear deal are slim, Israeli officials familiar with the details said Wednesday.
Members of Burns’ delegation, the Israeli officials said, clarified to their Israeli counterparts that they do not expect that the discussions with Iran that are being promoted by global superpowers will bear fruit. Following the swearing-in of Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi last week, Israeli officials have also assessed that it is unlikely that Iran will return to the deal.
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Although Israel wants the United States to join it in displaying a significant military threat against Iran, the sources said, “It does not look like the Americans have the intention of responding militarily, and it is unlikely at the moment that there will be such a response.”
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Burns met Wednesday for their first work meeting since assuming their positions. The premier and the director have “discussed the situation in the Middle East, with emphasis on Iran, and possibilities for expanding and deepening regional cooperation,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s office said.
Mossad Chief David Barnea and Defense Minister Benny Gantz also met with Burns, the minister said in a tweet, adding they discussed the Iranian nuclear program and “the need to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and other moderates in the region.”
Burns, who is visiting Israel for the first time since his appointment in March, is also expected to meet with the Palestinian Authority leadership.
Israel has been trying in recent weeks to harness the United States to promote dramatic steps against Iran, if Iran declares that it won’t renew the nuclear agreement. The defense establishment is afraid of a scenario in which Iran will delay its announcement for months to prevent international action against it.
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Israeli officials are now trying to ascertain if the U.S. administration is willing to mobilize the international community for a significant pressure campaign against Iran if it rejects the deal, in order to force it to give up its nuclear ambitions in the near future.
Israeli sources say that recently there was an attempt to determine if the United States is capable of carrying out its plan to formulate a tougher follow-up nuclear agreement, and to coerce Iran into signing it. The original intention of the United States is to implement the new treaty in 2030, the expiration date of the present agreement.