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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.

Go deeper

Apr 17, 2021 - World

Iran begins enriching uranium to 60% amid nuclear talks

Iran President Hassan Rouhani speaking in Tehran on April 15. Photo: Iranian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iran on Friday started enriching uranium to 60% purity after the resumption of negotiations between the nation and other world powers in Vienna to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, Al Jazeera reports citing Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi.

Why it matters: The production news comes days after an apparent Israeli attack on Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility. It also pushes the country one step closer to producing weapons-grade uranium and is a severe violation of the nuclear deal.

Apr 18, 2021 - World

Biden's blinking red lights: Taiwan, Ukraine and Iran

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Russia is menacing Ukraine’s borders, China is sending increasingly ominous signals over Taiwan and Iran is accelerating its uranium enrichment to unprecedented levels.

The big picture: Ukraine, Taiwan and Iran’s nuclear program always loomed large on the menu of potential crises President Biden could face. But over the last several days, the lights have been blinking red on all three fronts all at once.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.