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US rejects Bennett’s criticism of Iran nuke talks: ‘We cannot make the same mistake’

Amid signs that deal to restore 2015 pact could soon be reached, State Department touts diplomacy and coordination with regional allies as ‘the best way to achieve our goal’

US President Joe Biden (right) meets with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 27, 2021. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)
US President Joe Biden (right) meets with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 27, 2021. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

The Biden administration on Monday rejected Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s criticisms of a revived 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

A US State Department spokesperson told the Walla news site that when then-US president Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Iran deal in 2018, senior Israeli defense officials thought the move was a mistake.

“We cannot make the same mistake another time and put off another opportunity for diplomatic progress,” the spokesperson said.

“We believe that diplomacy, alongside coordination with our allies in the region, is the best way to achieve our goal,” the spokesperson added. “We will not respond in the media about details from the talks.”

The spokesperson also said that US officials are in contact with their Israeli counterparts on a “daily basis,” and that Washington “will continue to consult with the Israeli government regarding the way forward.”

In a speech Sunday to the Conference of Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations, Bennett said that the emerging Iran deal will “likely create a more violent, more volatile Middle East,” said Iran would use freed-up assets to target Israel, and vowed that Israel “won’t accept Iran as a nuclear threshold state.”

The prime minister’s remarks came as Western officials indicate that an agreement to restore the deal is possible within days.

According to a Channel 12 news report Monday, a renewed deal will effectively remove the possibility of an Israeli airstrike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

However, the network reported that Bennett and Mossad Director David Barnea are working on a new strategy to weaken Iran through economic means, as well as continuing to counter Tehran’s efforts to further entrench itself and its proxies on Israel’s borders.

The report also said Israeli officials were readying for the deal’s expiration in the coming years, and were preparing to speak with world powers on ensuring that a follow-up accord will be longer and stricter.

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