Israel won’t stand by while Iran cheats world, Mossad chief warns US

David Barnea wraps up Washington trip; PM’s office says Israeli spymaster shared ‘sensitive intelligence materials’ with heads of CIA, FBI, Pentagon and other top officials

Mossad chief David Barnea attends a ceremony marking Remembrance Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terror in Jerusalem on May 3, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Mossad chief David Barnea attends a ceremony marking Remembrance Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terror in Jerusalem on May 3, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Mossad chief David Barnea on Thursday wrapped up a trip to Washington for high-level talks with US officials as part of Israeli efforts against a restored nuclear deal with Iran.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Barnea held meetings with CIA chief William Burns, FBI Director Christopher Wray, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and senior officials at the State Department.

Barnea, who left for the US on Monday, showed the officials “sensitive intelligence materials” and stressed “Israel will not be able to stand idly by while Iran continues to deceive the world,” according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

“The director of the Mossad heard from his counterparts that the US remains committed to the security of the State of Israel,” the statement added.

“The Americans emphasized that they will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon and that they will continue to act in full cooperation with the State of Israel with regards to regional issues in the Middle East concerning the security of the State of Israel.”

A White House National Security Council confirmed Barnea’s meeting with Sullivan on Wednesday.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House, July 11, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“Director Barnea has long had a pre-scheduled visit for this time,” the spokesperson told The Times of Israel, seemingly pre-empting any possible attempt to tie the talks to the Iran nuclear deal.

He added that the two discussed “a range of global and regional issues.”

“We appreciate our close consultations, as always, with him and other senior Israeli officials,” the spokesperson added.

Israeli officials have stepped up contacts with American and European counterparts in recent weeks to weigh in on a possible revival of the Iran nuclear deal, as the sides appeared to be nearing an agreement.

However, talks appear to have hit a snag over the past week, with Iran raising a number of demands rejected by the US and European Union. Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s sister site, reported that US officials — including President Joe Biden — conveyed to Prime Minister Yair Lapid during recent talks that the restoration of the deal is off the table for now.

Israel has been pressuring the US not to reenter the 2015 nuclear accord. A senior defense official said last month that Israel had two main issues with the emerging deal: the so-called sunset clause, which would lift limitations on Iran’s nuclear program when the accord expires; and sanctions relief that would allow Iran to increase funding to its proxies.

Biden took office aiming to revive the deal, which was abandoned in 2018 by his predecessor Donald Trump, who unleashed a volley of fresh sanctions on the cleric-run state.

Israel has meanwhile pushed the US to prepare a military option against Iran and Biden said in July that he would be prepared to use force if necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid at Nevatim airbase in southern Israel, September 6, 2022. (Video screenshot/GPO)

Israel has long opposed the deal, arguing that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear bomb, and has published intelligence it says reveals the Iranian weapons program. 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.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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