Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Says Sunday He’s Opposed to Any Interim U.S.-Iran Deal on Nuclear Program

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposed any interim agreement negotiated between Iran and the United States over its nuclear program. 

Netanyahu spoke after reports in the Israeli media said understandings are being reached between Tehran and Washington that could hold back Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for some relief in sanctions. The reports could not be independently confirmed, and the U.S. has publicly denied the existence of any such deal. 

PM Netanyahu said Israel had informed the U.S. that “the most limited understandings, what are called ‘mini-agreements,’ do not — in our view — serve the goal, and we are opposed to them as well.”

Israeli officials believe that some understandings have already reached limiting enrichment, and some funds have already been unfrozen. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity due to discussions of confidential diplomatic assessment. 

Last week, the Israeli news site Walla reported that under the emerging understandings, Iran would limit its uranium enrichment to 60% in exchange for sanctions relief. The site also said the sides continued to discuss reciprocal prisoner releases. 

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said last week, “There is no deal,” and added that the reports were untrue. 

In its report, Walla said Netanyahu revealed details of the agreement at a recent meeting of the parliamentary committee meeting. The United States and Israel share intelligence. A primary focus of the countries’ interactions is Iran and its nuclear program. 

PM Netanyahu vehemently opposed the 2015 deal between Iran and world leaders that was brokered by the Obama administration that aimed to rein in Iran’s nuclear program. He was also a major supporter of former President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to withdraw from the deal, leaving it in shambles. 

Iran maintains its program is intended for civilian purposes. Israel considers a nuclear Iran a significant threat, citing its calls for Israel’s destruction and its support for anti-Israel militant groups across the region. 

The U.S. has been updating Israel on Iran talks

So far, the United States has yet to call the understanding with Iran an official agreement, as that would require congressional approval. Friday in the Haaretz daily, it was reported that the U.S. has been updating Israel on the emerging understandings and that Jerusalem has yet to be trying to foil the talks.

According to the report, the United States has assured Israel it will maintain its freedom to act and security edge against Iran. The report echoed similar remarks from Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Herzog.

“Diplomacy isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” said Herzog during an event hosted by the Democratic Majority for Israel, according to Haaretz. 

“As far as we’re concerned, diplomacy in and of itself, and such understandings, are not necessarily bad to the extent that they can help deescalate a situation,” said Herzog.

Israel doesn’t rule out military action to prevent Iran from creating a nuclear weapon.