Biden aide, Israeli leaders explore common strategy on Iran
Biden aide, Israeli leaders explore common strategy on Iran

Israeli leaders described Iran as a ticking bomb

Israeli leaders and the US national security adviser on Wednesday sought common ground on how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program amid slow-moving talks between Tehran and world powers.

The US official, Jake Sullivan, told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem that the United States and Israel are at a “critical juncture” for forging a shared security strategy on various issues.

In public remarks after meeting Sullivan, Israeli leaders described Iran as a ticking bomb and called on world powers not to allow it to play for time at nuclear negotiations in Vienna.

Israel has long hinted that, if it thinks diplomacy has hit a dead end, it could resort to pre-emptive strikes to deny its sworn enemy the means to make a bomb.

“What happens in Vienna has profound ramifications for the stability of the Middle East and the security of Israel for the upcoming years,” Bennett told Sullivan, according to Bennett’s office.

Bennett tweeted that their “productive” talks had included the “growing threat posed by Iran and its negotiations with the world powers.”

Washington has been spearheading efforts to revive the 2015 atomic pact in which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Israel bitterly opposed the deal and former president Donald Trump pulled the United States out of it.

Sullivan, sent by President Joe Biden on a 30-hour visit to Jerusalem and the occupied Palestinian territories days before Christmas, said it was important to develop with Israel “a common strategy, a common outlook” on a major set of security issues.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that in his talks with Sullivan “we discussed the strategy for combating Iran’s nuclear program and the way in which the US and Israel cooperate on this issue.”

Since Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal, Iran has breached the pact with advances in sensitive areas such as uranium enrichment, while denying any military designs.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony for new Israeli Air Force pilots on Wednesday, Defence Minister Benny Gantz accused Iran of “playing for time” and said the world had to show its leaders that “time was working against them.”

“We are currently discussing the right ways to go about this with our partners,” he said.

Sullivan was due to travel on to the occupied West Bank to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose US-sponsored statehood negotiations with Israel have been stalled since 2014.

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