US and Israeli defence chiefs are expected to discuss possible military exercises that would prepare for a worst-case scenario to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities should diplomacy fail.
Negotiations between Iran and world powers aimed at salvaging a tattered 2015 nuclear deal have resumed in Vienna after a few days’ pause.
The resumption of negotiations on Thursday come as tensions remain high after Tehran made demands last week that European countries strongly criticised.
A meeting of all the deal’s remaining signatories – Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – was being chaired by European Union diplomat Enrique Mora.
The coordinator of talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal said on Thursday as negotiations resumed that he saw renewed will on all sides including Iran to reach an agreement but that would now betested as envoys go into details in the days ahead.
“What I felt this morning was from … all delegations a renewed sense of purpose in the need to work and to reach an agreement on bringing the JCPOA back to life,” the European Union’s Enrique Mora told reporters after the remaining parties to the deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, met.
European diplomats urged Tehran to come back with “realistic proposals” after the Iranian delegation made numerous demands last week that other parties to the accord deemed unacceptable.
US hopes talks ‘proceed differently’
The United States has participated indirectly in the ongoing talks because it withdrew from the accord in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump.
Washington plans to send a delegation led by Robert Malley, the special US envoy for Iran, to Vienna over the weekend.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said this week that the US hopes the next round of talks “proceeds differently.”
The accord sealed in Vienna in 2015, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was meant to rein in Iran’s nuclear program in return for loosened economic sanctions.
Following the US decision to withdraw and reimpose sanctions against Iran, Tehran has ramped up its nuclear program again by enriching uranium beyond the thresholds allowed in the agreement.
US, Israel to discuss military drills
US and Israeli defence chiefs are expected on Thursday to discuss possible military exercises that would prepare for a worst-case scenario to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities should diplomacy fail and if their nations’ leaders request it, a senior US official told Reuters news agency.
The scheduled US talks with visiting Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz follow an October 25 briefing by Pentagon leaders to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on the full set of military options available to ensure that Iran would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon, the official said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The US-Israeli preparations, which have not been previously reported, underscore Western concern about difficult nuclear talks with Iran that President Joe Biden had hoped would revive a 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by his predecessor, Donald Trump.