Apr 18, 2021 - World

Israeli intel agencies believe Vienna talks will lead to U.S. return to Iran nuclear deal

Biden Netanyahu.

Photo: DEBBIE HILL/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli military intelligence and senior officials in the Mossad briefed a meeting of the nation's security cabinet that talks in Vienna between Iran and other world powers will lead to the U.S. returning to the 2015 nuclear deal, two officials who attended the meeting told me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government is very concerned about a U.S. return to the nuclear deal and is trying to convince the Biden administration not to take the pressure off the Iranian regime.

Driving the news: The Mossad mainly briefed the cabinet meeting on the status of the Iranian nuclear program. Military intelligence officials discussed Iranian actions in the region at the meeting.

  • The two intelligence agencies gave similar assessments on where the Vienna talks stand.

What they are saying: “We are not very optimistic to say the least," a senior Israeli official who attended the meeting told me. "We will not be surprised if within weeks the U.S. and other world powers sign a deal with Iran.”

  • National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told "Fox News Sunday" that the Vienna talks with Iran were "constructive" and that there is a real effort to get back to mutual compliance of the 2015 nuclear deal.
  • Sullivan added that the U.S. won’t lift sanctions unless it has "clarity and confidence" that Iran will fully return to compliance of all its obligations under the 2015 agreement.

What’s next: Israeli officials told me there were no new policy decisions made during today’s cabinet meeting, and Israel will continue the dialogue with the Biden administration on the negotiations with Iran.

  • In the coming two weeks the Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbatt, IDF chief of staff Aviv Kochavi, head of Israeli military intelligence Tamir Hayman and Mossad director Yossi Cohen will visit Washington for talks with their counterparts on Iran, officials tell me.
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