The talks between the major powers and Iran to prevent the Ayatollahs regime from attaining nuclear weapons are returning to the center of Israeli-American discourse. The topic arose in conversations yesterday between opposition leader Isaac Herzog and senior White House officials, and will be at the top of the agenda for the meeting between a large Israeli delegation, led by Minister of Strategic Affairs, Intelligence and International Relations Yuval Steinitz, and a delegation of senior US officials, led by Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who is leading the US in its negotiations with Iran.
The meeting, which will take place today in Washington and will end tomorrow, is part of the semi-annual strategic dialogue between the two countries.
Sources inform “Globes” that the Israeli delegation will ask its counterparts that the US and the coalition it is trying to build in the struggle against the Islamic State not lead to leniency in the nuclear talks with Iran. According to sources close to the matter, there is great concern in Jerusalem that Tehran will try to take advantage of its common interest with the US on the matter of IS in order to offer the US intelligence cooperation in the war against the terrorist group, in exchange for leniency from the powers in the nuclear talks.
According to the sources, the press leak to “Reuters” earlier this week revealing that the Israeli government is providing the Obama administration with very valuable intelligence regarding IS should be seen in this context.
The delegation includes representatives from the Mossad, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) intelligence, the National Security Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and others. A source in the delegation admitted that the matter of IS will be addressed in the meeting, but that the emphasis will be Iran. The ongoing tension between Israel and Gaza will also be addressed in the talks, as well as international efforts to extend economic aid to the Gaza Strip.
In attempt to calm the Israelis, US Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken told Herzog that despite the common interest shared by the US and Iran, there will be no change in the US position, which completely rejects the possibility of Tehran gaining nuclear weapons. Herzog’s visit to the White House was separate from the Steinitz-led delegation’s talks.
At the end of the meeting, Herzog said: “A nuclear Iran represents a threat to Israel and the entire world, and we may not compromise on this matter. I respect the American position, which understands that one threat does not negate another. The fight against IS, despite its great importance, does not reduce the risk of a nuclear Iran.
“Despite the fact that Israel insists upon fighting again and again with the US administration, I found attentive positions in the White House, that understand the situation, and give full backing to Israel and its interests, ” said Herzog.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – www.globes-online.com