Israel sees Iran nuclear deal ‘shortly,’ warns it will be weaker

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday (Feb 20) that Iran may “shortly” agree a new nuclear deal with major powers but warned it will be weaker than the original 2015 agreement.

Bennett was speaking ahead of a weekly cabinet meeting following indications that the outline of a deal was taking shape at talks in Vienna.

“We may see an agreement shortly,” Bennett said. “The new agreement that appears will be made is shorter and weaker than the previous one.”

The 2015 Iran nuclear agreement offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme, but the United States unilaterally withdrew in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump and reimposed heavy economic sanctions.

Talks on reviving the initial pact, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have been held in the Austrian capital since late November, involving Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia directly and the United States indirectly.

Bennett has been a staunch opponent of the JCPOA and repeatedly warned any revenue Tehran sees from new sanctions relief will be used to purchase weapons that could harm Israelis.

“This money will eventually go to terrorism,” he reiterated on Sunday.

Bennett has said Israel will not be bound by a restored agreement and will retain the freedom to act if Iran advances towards producing a nuclear weapon.

“We are organising and preparing for the day after, in all dimensions, so that we can maintain the security of the citizens of Israel on our own,” he told his cabinet.

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