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Report: Israel hoping progress in Iran nuclear talks ‘is reversible’

After Tehran drops demand on IRGC delisting, Israeli official tells news site that negotiations have been further along in past but Tehran ‘suddenly’ showing willingness for deal

Iranian deputy foreign minister Reza Najafi, left, and Iranian AEOI spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi, seen leaving the Palais Coburg where closed-door nuclear talks took place in Vienna, Austria, August 5, 2022. (AP/Florian Schroetter)
Iranian deputy foreign minister Reza Najafi, left, and Iranian AEOI spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi, seen leaving the Palais Coburg where closed-door nuclear talks took place in Vienna, Austria, August 5, 2022. (AP/Florian Schroetter)

An Israeli official on Saturday expressed hope that ongoing efforts to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will not ultimately yield an agreement, as talks between world powers and Tehran appeared to advance.

In comments to the Ynet news site, the unnamed official asserted that the nuclear negotiations have previously been more advanced but that Iran is now “suddenly” displaying willingness for a deal.

“The Iranians do not work too fast. We hope the situation is reversible,” the official was quoted as saying.

“If they go to a deal, we’ll try to maximize the achievements [for Israel] within the agreement,” the official added.

The official also argued that if the deal was renewed, it would be “proof” that former US president Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the accord in 2018 — a move backed by Israel — was a mistake “without a plan B.”

“Ultimately we’ll end up with an even worse deal,” the official said.

The remarks came after a senior US official confirmed to The Times of Israel that Iran dropped its “red line” demand that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be removed from a terror blacklist, amid reports that the sides are nearing an agreement on a joint US-Iranian return to compliance with the 2015 pact.

Illustrative: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard members stand in front of the Shahab-3 missile, displayed during the annual pro-Palestinians Al-Quds, or Jerusalem, Day rally in Tehran, Iran, April 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

While the sides had been pessimistic about the prospects of a deal for months, progress has been reported over the past week.

Though the deal is now “closer than it was two weeks ago, the outcome remains uncertain as some gaps remain. President Biden will only approve a deal that meets our national security interests,” the US official told CNN.

Another administration official speaking to CNN was similarly cautious, explaining that progress may be slow moving forward but that there was indeed more momentum now than there was over the past year.

Top Israeli officials have warned their counterparts in the US and Europe against the deal and called for the negotiators to give up on the talks.

National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata will head to Washington, DC next week to conduct a series of meetings with US officials on the Iran nuclear program.

Israel believes Iran wishes to build a nuclear bomb, has revealed intelligence it says reveals the Iranian weapons program and has reportedly carried out sabotage operations within the Islamic Republic to delay the development of such a weapon.

Iran has denied any nefarious intentions and claims its program is designed for peaceful purposes, though it has recently been enriching uranium to levels that international leaders say have no civil use.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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