Lapid’s visit comes as the United States and Iran appear ready to restart indirect talks in Vienna to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—that the former Trump administration left.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid travels Monday to Washington for meetings with US administration officials.
During his visit, from Oct.12 to Oct. 14, Lapid is expected to meet with Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
He will also have a trilateral meeting with Blinken and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.
They are expected to discuss the Iranian nuclear deal and Blinken will share with the two allies the latest US assessment and approach moving forward.
Lapid’s visit comes s to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—that the former Trump administration left.
Dialogue stalled due to several factors, including the Iranian presidential elections this summer that brought Ebrahim Raisi to power and the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in late August.
Lapid and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett have stated that they oppose re-entry into the JCPOA and have been offering an alternative plan to deal with Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
The Biden administration said it believes that negotiations are the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. However, Biden and Sullivan, who this week met with Israeli national security adviser Eyal Hulata, have both said that the United States would be open to other options if Iran does not re-enter the negotiations.
Iran has enriched more than 120 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity, the head of the country’s atomic energy agency has claimed. In September, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran has vastly expanded its stockpile of the product that was banned by the 2015 deal with world powers.
Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran is not allowed to enrich uranium above 3.67 percent, well below the 90-percent threshold needed to create a nuclear weapon.
However, Tehran increasingly abandoned its commitments after former US president Donald Trump ditched the accord and re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has warned that the Iranian nuclear programme is at its most advanced point ever. “The world is currently sitting and waiting for a decision in Teheran, whether or not to return to the discussion table in Vienna and to re-enter the JCPOA nuclear agreement, he said Sunday as he hosted outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a special Cabinet meeting.
“Unfortunately, in the last three years the Iranians have taken a giant leap forward in their ability to enrich uranium. The Iranian nuclear programme is at its most advanced point ever. The world is waiting, the Iranians are playing for time, and the centrifuges are spinning,” he added.
“The responsibility on Israel is to make certain – in actions, not speeches – that Iran will not have nuclear weapons, ever. Nuclear weapons in the hands of such an extremist and violent regime will change the face of the region and the world. For us this is not a strategic problem, but an existential issue,” Bennett stressed.