Aug 24, 2022 - World

U.S. sends response to Iran comments on EU draft nuclear deal

The flag of Iran in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters. Photo: Michael Gruber/Getty Images

The flag of Iran in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters. Photo: Michael Gruber/Getty Images

U.S. officials confirmed on Wednesday that the Biden administration sent its response to Iran's comments on the EU draft agreement that would restore the Iran nuclear deal.

Why it matters: The U.S. move is another step toward a deal, though there are still gaps between the parties on several issues. It's not clear whether there will be another round of negotiations as a result of the U.S. response.

Driving the news: An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed the U.S. response was received through the EU coordinator.

  • The spokesperson said Iran will carefully study it and will share its comments with the EU coordinator.
  • A State Department spokesperson did not provide any details about the U.S. response.

The big picture: Separately on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid stressed in a briefing with the international press that he is concerned the U.S. and other Western powers will give more concessions to Iran in order to reach a deal on a return to the 2015 nuclear agreement.

  • The White House has repeatedly denied it's considering new concessions, and on Wendesday made clear that it will not agree to any conditionality between the reimplementation of the 2015 nuclear deal and the international atomic energy agency investigations regarding suspicious undeclared nuclear activity by Iran.
  • “We have communicated to Iran, both in public and private, that it must answer the IAEA questions. It's the only way to address those concerns. And our position on that is not going to change," National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said in a briefing with reporters.

What he's saying: Lapid said the EU draft agreement was defined as a “final offer” and presented as "take it or leave it," but the Iranian response to it included more changes that led to further discussions.

  • “The Iranians are making demands again. The negotiators are ready to make concessions, again. The countries of the West draw a red line, the Iranians ignore it, and the red line moves. If the Iranians didn’t take it, why didn’t the world leave it?” Lapid said.
  • The prime minister also said Israel thinks the nuclear deal does not meet the standards set by President Biden for preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state.
  • Lapid added that, if a deal is signed, Israel won’t be bound by it and will act to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

Israeli national security adviser Eyal Hulata met with his U.S. counterpart Jake Sullivan at the White House Tuesday to discuss the negotiations with Iran.

  • One of the main goals of Hulata’s trip was to press the White House on not making any further concessions, mainly on the International Atomic Energy Agency investigations against Iran and the sanctions against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
  • Sullivan told Hulata that Biden is committed to ensuring Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon, the White House said in a readout of the meeting.
  • Sullivan expressed Biden's "steadfast commitment to preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter its enemies and to defend itself by itself against any threat or combination of threats, including from Iran and Iranian-backed proxies," the White House said.

Between the lines: Lapid’s strong public statements and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s upcoming trip to Washington are also connected to the domestic political situation and the upcoming Israeli elections.

  • The two Israeli leaders want to show they are taking a hard line and working against the nuclear deal, fearing attacks from their political rival and ardent Iran hawk Benjamin Netanyahu.
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