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'Iran Threat' High On Agenda As U.S. National-Security Adviser Travels To Israel

By RFE/RL December 21, 2021

U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan will visit Israel this week for discussions likely to be dominated by a perceived threat from Iran amid U.S. concerns that the time Tehran would need to develop a nuclear weapon has become "unacceptably short."

Sullivan will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to "reaffirm the U.S. commitment to Israel's security and consult on a range of issues of strategic importance to the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship, including the threat posed by Iran," National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement on December 20.

He and other officials will also meet with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to discuss strengthening U.S. relations with the Palestinians, Horne said. Her statement did not provide the dates of Sullivan's meetings.

The trip comes as negotiators report that talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are moving at a slow pace.

A Biden administration official, who spoke earlier to reporters on condition of anonymity, said U.S. and Israeli officials will talk about the status of negotiations and the future of Iran's nuclear program.

"It will be a good opportunity to sit down face-to-face and talk about the state of the talks, the time frame in which we are working, and to reemphasize that we don't have much time," the official said.

The United States believes the amount of time required for Iran to develop nuclear weapons has become "unacceptably short," an unidentified Biden administration source said last week.

The official did not offer an estimate of Iran's so-called "breakout time" -- the time it would take Iran to develop a nuclear weapon if it renounced all international agreements restricting its nuclear program -- but it has previously been estimated at several months.

Iran has denied that its nuclear program is for developing weapons.

The latest round of talks aimed at salvaging the nuclear deal adjourned on December 17. They are to resume next week.

Sullivan said last week that the talks were "not going well," adding that the United States had conveyed to Iran its "alarm" over the purported progress of its nuclear program.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on December 20 that because of the way the Iranians "approached and participated in the last round of talks," Biden had asked the national-security team "to be prepared in the event that diplomacy fails" and to look at other options.

"That has been ongoing, including in consultation with a range of partners around the world," she said, declining to elaborate on what the other options might be.

With reporting by Reuters and dpa

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-nuclear- us-israel-palestinians-jcpoa/31618730.html

Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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