In an unusual move, Israel sent an envoy to the nuclear talks between world powers and Iran in Vienna.
Israeli media outlets reported on Tuesday that the envoy is Yosh Zarka, head of Israel's Foreign Ministry's strategic division.
Zarka is expected to take part in meetings with head negotiators from all participant delegations, including the United States, but not with the Iranians. Zarka also reportedly met with the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi.
It is the first time that Israel is sending a representative since the outset of the nuclear talks. According to Biden administration officials, negotiations with Iran have entered their final stretch in Vienna. Last week, CNN quoted unnamed officials saying that the current negotiation session is “the critical one.” Washington aims to achieve a deal before the end of February or else the United States will have to change its track and launch more aggressive efforts against Tehran, the officials said.
On Tuesday, Iran's top security official said that Iran requires guarantees and lifting of U.S. sanctions in order to restore the 2015 nuclear deal. Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran wrote on Twitter: “The real lifting of sanctions means that #Iran will enjoy credible and sustainable economic benefits. Proven American malpractice is the most important threat to any agreement. Verification and providing a guarantee is an integral part of a #GoodDeal.”
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is currently visiting Bahrain, where he warned that a deal with Iran would be a strategic mistake.
“It would allow it to maintain its nuclear capabilities and receive hundreds of billions of dollars, which would fuel its terror machine that harms so many countries in the region and the world,” Bennett told Bahraini daily newspaper, Alayam.
He noted that Israel and Bahrain “are dealing with major security challenges stemming from the same source – the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.