Top Merkel aide said to tell Israel that Berlin willing to work on Iran missiles
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Top Merkel aide said to tell Israel that Berlin willing to work on Iran missiles

German chancellor's foreign policy adviser, in Israel for high-level talks, reportedly insists nuclear deal must be preserved

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak at a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin on February 16, 2016 after a joint cabinet meeting. (AFP /Odd Andersen)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak at a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin on February 16, 2016 after a joint cabinet meeting. (AFP /Odd Andersen)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s top foreign policy adviser reportedly met with senior security officials in Israel, telling them that Berlin wants to see the Iran nuclear deal preserved, but is prepared to work with Israel to counter Tehran in other spheres.

According to a Channel 10 report Friday, Jan Hecker held talks with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat on Thursday ahead of ahead of US President Donald Trump’s decision to waive sanctions on Tehran as part of the nuclear deal.

Hecker told the Israelis that Germany, along with fellow European signatories to the 2015 pact Britain and France, wants to see the accord that limits Iran’s nuclear activities preserved and not altered or cancelled, the report said.

Along with Trump, who called the agreement one of the worst deals ever, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a sharp critic of the nuclear accord, saying it will pave the way for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons if it isn’t scrapped or altered.

Despite disagreement over the nuclear deal, Hecker told Cohen and Ben-Shabbat that Germany is ready to work with Israel regarding Iran on non-nuclear issues, such as its ballistic missile program, support for terror groups and Iran’s involvement in Syria and Lebanon, according to Channel 10.

The report said Cohen told Hecker that while Israel opposes the deal, it would “agree to disagree” with Germany and instead focus on areas on which they do agree, such as increasing the UN nuclear agency’s oversight of facilities.

Mossad chief Yossi Cohen speaks at the launch event for intelligence agency’s Libertad Fund on June 27, 2017. (Gershom/GPO)

Hecker’s visit to Israel came a day before Trump’s decision to extend waivers on Iran nuclear sanctions, keeping alive the landmark deal for at least another several months despite his past vows to scuttle the deal.

Instead of scuttling the agreement, a senior White House official said Trump wants Washington’s European allies to use the 60-day period before sanctions relief again comes up for renewal to agree on tougher measures.

At the same time as the renewed waiver was announced, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on 14 Iranian figures and companies, including the head of the country’s judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani.

“The president’s decision is to waive once more the nuclear sanctions that the terms of the JCPOA require the United States to waive in order to remain in the deal,” the White House official said.

This file photo taken on January 8, 2018, shows US President Donald Trump prior to boarding Airforce One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.
e comment during a meeting with. (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

“But in his statement, the president will also make clear that this is the last such waiver that he will issue.”

The official said that Trump now wants to work with America’s European allies — who all urged him to remain within the accord — to develop a new agreement to replace the Iran deal.

Tehran would not be involved in these discussions, as it was prior to the signing of the 2015 accord, but would be subject to US and European sanctions if it breaks the terms of the new arrangement.

The new deal, the official said, would be permanent and would not begin to expire after a decade as was the case in the 2015 accord.

It would target Iran’s missile program and not simply its nuclear industry, and it would mandate UN inspections of Iranian sites.

“If the president can get that agreement that meets his objective and it never expires, it denies Iran all paths to nuclear weapons forever, not for ten years, he would be open to remaining in such a modified deal,” the official said.

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