US Envoy to Iran Pours Cold Water on Claim Nuclear Deal 'Imminent'
High-ranking US officials caution the Iran nuclear deal may not be as close as it seems, as a skeptical Israeli government promises to play by its own rules.
The US special envoy for Iran appeared to pour cold water on recent suggestions that the restoration of the Iran nuclear deal could be just days away.
Robert Malley explained before the Doha Forum international conference that he "can't be confident" that an agreement "is imminent." "A few months ago, we thought we were pretty close as well," the special envoy noted.
The remarks appeared to come in response to statements by top European Union and Iranian officials who implied a deal is soon likely to be reached to return to the terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Speaking at the same conference Saturday, EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell announced "we are very close to an agreement... I cannot tell you when or how, but it is a matter of days." A senior advisor to Iran's Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei expressed similar sentiments when he told a Doha audience that a nuclear deal is "imminent," but that ultimately negotiations "depend on the political will of the United States."
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to a successful outcome for ongoing talks in Vienna now appears to be the US government's sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran's Foreign Minister, explained to an Iranian television audience on Saturday that since "the IRGC is one of the main establishments" in Iran, removing sanctions against the IRGC "is one of [Iran's] main issues."
At a joint press conference in Jerusalem Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett described the potential removal of sanctions on the IRGC as "a very important issue" for Israel, as well. He stood alongside US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who attempted to assuage apparent fears of a successful negotiations among leaders of the Israeli regime and several other West Asian countries.
Blinken claimed the US and Israel "see eye-to-eye" on what he called "the most important element... that Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon." To achieve this objective, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid threatened military aggression against Iran.
"Israel and the United States will continue to work together to prevent a nuclear Iran. At the same time, Israel will do anything we believe is needed to stop the Iranian nuclear program. Anything," Lapid insisted.
The Jerusalem meeting was also attended by Middle Eastern nations who've normalized relations with Israel over the past several years, including Bahrain, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. In an apparent show of solidarity with the Palestinian people, Jordan reportedly declined an invitation.
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