Report: US brokering deal for Iran to send oil to Syria; Israel may give approval

Unsourced report says Jerusalem could agree to conditional easing of sanctions; 3 tankers said already on their way, having previously carried weapons from Iran to Syria, Hezbollah

Picture shows Iranian supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar on August 15, 201 (Jorge Guerrero/AFP)
Illustrative -- Iranian supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar on August 15, 2019. (Jorge Guerrero/AFP)

Israel may give its approval to a reported US-brokered deal allowing Iran to transfer oil to Syria, ahead of the resumption of talks to revive the nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.

According to an unsourced report by Channel 12 news on Sunday, three tankers are already making their way from Iran to Syria.

The report said the ships have previously carried weapons from Iran to Syria and to Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group.

The move to allow the transfer of oil was reportedly part of an easing of sanctions ahead of the expected resumption of the stalled nuclear deal talks.

The report said that if Israel were to back the deal for the transfer of oil, it would be on the condition that there was full American supervision and Iranian transparency to ensure that the mechanism was not used for the transfer of weapons.

Israel has admitted to carrying out hundreds of sorties over Syria in the last decade, mostly to stymie attempts by the Islamic Republic to transfer weapons or establish a foothold in a country that borders Israel.

Crewmen speak aboard the Iranian oil tanker Fortune during its arrival to El Palito refinery near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, May 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Ernesto Vargas)

The report came as nuclear talks were expected to resume. The administration of US President Joe Biden has sought to return to the deal, saying it would be the best path to keep Iran from getting nuclear arms.

Talks began in April last year but stalled in March, amid differences between Tehran and Washington, notably over a demand by Iran to remove its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from a US terror list.

The deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), gave Iran relief from crushing sanctions in return for guarantees it could not develop a nuclear weapon — something Tehran has always denied wanting to do, though Israel says it has gathered intelligence proving otherwise.

The United States unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump, before imposing waves of biting sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Officially, Israel is fiercely opposed to a return to the 2015 deal, which it campaigned against at the time of its signing, viewing Iran as untrustworthy and unable to keep its commitments.

Successive Israeli governments have warned for decades that Iran seeks to build a nuclear weapon.

However, senior defense officials are at odds over Israel’s stance on talks aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal, according to an unsourced report Sunday in Hebrew-language media.

According to the Ynet news site, several Israeli generals, including the chief of Military Intelligence, have begun to support a return to the 2015 accord between Iran and world powers, against Israel’s official policy.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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