A new nuclear deal between world powers and Iran would allow other nations to avoid punitive economic sanctions that would provide $100 billion annually to the Islamic Republic that would finance its destabilizing activities in the Mideast, asserted Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
By Erin Viner
After 16 months of challenging indirect US-Iranian talks mediated by the EU, the bloc’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said on 8 August that the final offer was on the table, and that a response was expected within a “very, very few weeks.”
“The sweeping removal of sanctions on sectors like banking – against financial institutions designated today as supporting terrorism – means the Iranians will have no problem whatsoever laundering money … Iran will assist other nations facing sanctions to evade them,” the Israeli leader told foreign correspondents in a briefing yesterday.
“Israel is not against any agreement. We are against this agreement, because it is a bad one; because it cannot be accepted as it is written right now,” said the Premier, referring to a “final” draft accord proposed by the European Union that would restore the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal with Iran, under which Tehran was called on to limit its disputed uranium enrichment program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Stressing that the current proposal “would give Iran a hundred billion dollars a year,” Lapid charged, “This money will not build schools or hospitals” but “will be used to undermine stability in the Middle East and spread terror around the globe,” fund the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the “Basij who oppress the Iranian people,” additional “attacks on American bases in the Middle East, and used to strengthen Iran’s Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist proxies.
Lapid underscored that Israel maintains an “open dialogue” with the administration of US President Joe Biden “on all matters of disagreement” and that he appreciates Washington’s “willingness to listen and work together: the United States is and will remain our closest ally, and President Biden is one of the best friends Israel has ever known.”
Jerusalem, which is not a party to the nuclear negotiations in Austria, is very concerned over the acquisition of nuclear weapons by its archenemy; and has made multiple veiled threats to take pre-emptive military action against Iran if it deems diplomacy a dead end.
“We have made it clear to everyone: if a deal is signed, it does not obligate Israel. We will act to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state,” reiterated Lapid.
(Please see below for a transcript of Lapid’s opening remarks at the start of the briefing).
The JCPOA was abandoned in 2018 by then-US President Donald Trump, saying it was too soft on Iran, and reimposed crippling economic sanctions; after which the Islamic Republic openly violating critical nuclear limits of the deal. Current President Biden has sought to revive the deal to bring both sides back into compliance with its terms.
Israel has long opposed the JCPOA as too weak to prevent Iran from pursuing a bomb, impede ballistic missile development or reduce support of its proxies such as the Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) or Hezbollah terror organizations.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly threatened to annihilate the Jewish State.
Iran announced yesterday that it has received the US response to the EU proposal.
“The careful review of the response has started in Tehran,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani, adding that his country “will share its view with the EU, as the coordinator of the nuclear talks” after completion of the examination.
Tehran’s initial reaction to the text last week included “additional views and considerations” while calling on Washington to compromise in order to reach resolution on outstanding issues.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz is enroute to Washington today following other Israeli security officials earlier this week to continue discussions on Iran with his US counterparts.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s opening remarks at the foreign correspondents’ briefing:
“A week ago, the EU made Iran what they called their “final offer” for a return to the nuclear deal.
They declared it was “take it or leave it.”
The Iranians, as always, did not say no. They said ‘Yes, but…;’
And then they sent a draft of their own, with more changes and demands.
Since then, there have been more discussions about this.
The Iranians are making demands again.
The negotiators are ready to make concessions, again.
This is not the first time this has happened. 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’?
On the table right now is a bad deal. It would give Iran a hundred billion dollars a year.
This money will not build schools or hospitals.
This is a hundred billion dollars a year that will be used to undermine stability in the Middle East and spread terror around the globe.
This money will fund the Revolutionary Guards. It will fund the Basij who oppress the Iranian people.
It will fund more attacks on American bases in the Middle East.
It will be used to strengthen Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad.
This money will go to the people who are trying to kill authors and thinkers in New York.
And of course, it will be used to strengthen Iran’s nuclear program.
Israel is not against any agreement. We are against this agreement, because it is a bad one.
Because it cannot be accepted as it is written right now.
In our eyes, it does not meet the standards set by President Biden himself: preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state.
This agreement endangers the independence of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA. It creates huge political pressure on them to close open cases without completing a professional investigation.
This week, Rafael Grossi, the Director-General of the IAEA, was asked if he received good enough answers from the Iranians on these open files.
This is what he said: ‘Absolutely not. So far, Iran has not given us the technically credible explanations that we need to explain the origin of many traces of uranium… Let us have an explanation: if there was nuclear material there, where is it now?’
How is it possible to sign a deal with Iran when this is what the body responsible for supervising a deal says?
How is it possible to sign a deal with the Iranians that gives them a hundred billion dollar a year prize for breaking all of their commitments?
The sweeping removal of sanctions on sectors like banking – against financial institutions designated today as supporting terrorism – means the Iranians will have no problem whatsoever laundering money.
Iran will assist other nations facing sanctions to evade them. They will be able to create a direct route for financing terror.
We have an open dialogue with the American administration on all matters of disagreement.
I appreciate their willingness to listen and work together: the United States is and will remain our closest ally, and President Biden is one of the best friends Israel has ever known.
In the last few days, I have spoken with the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany. We have a close, and almost daily, dialogue with the UK.
I told them these negotiations have reached the point where they must stop and say ‘enough.’
All that being said, we have made it clear to everyone: if a deal is signed, it does not obligate Israel.
We will act to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state.
We are not prepared to live with a nuclear threat above our heads from an extremist, violent Islamist regime.
This will not happen. Because we will not let it happen.
Photo: Koby Gideon (GPO)