05:50 GMT09 May 2021
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    Earlier, current and former US officials told a major news agency that Washington was considering a ‘near wholesale rollback’ of sanctions against Tehran to end the months-long standoff about which side makes the first move to restore the functioning of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement.

    Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen has called the JCPOA a “bad deal” and warned that Israel is willing to take military action to stop Tehran in its alleged quest to obtain a nuclear weapon.

    “A bad deal will send the region spiraling into war,” Cohen said, speaking to Reuters on Thursday. “Anyone seeking short-term benefits should be mindful of the longer-term.”

    “Israel will not allow Iran to attain nuclear arms. Iran has no immunity anywhere. Our planes can reach everywhere in the Middle East – and certainly Iran,” he added.

    Cohen went on to suggest that along with preventing Iran from expanding its uranium enrichment and missile development capabilities, the US and other powers should force it to stop “destabilizing other countries” and funding militant groups. The minister did not elaborate regarding which countries he had in mind.

    Cohen’s comments come following a report saying that US negotiators were prepared to make concessions in the diplomatic standoff with Tehran and to terminate a range of anti-Iran sanctions signed during the Trump administration after it withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018. The reported shift in policy comes after months of US demands that Iran significantly reduce its nuclear enrichment activities before Washington would scale back sanctions. Tehran has maintained that the US must drop its sanctions before it will agree to come back in line with its commitments under the nuclear deal.

    Diplomatic relations between Iran and Israel are non-existent, and tensions between the two Middle Eastern powers have escalated recently following the suspected Israeli assassination of a senior Iranian nuclear scientist late last year and a sabotage attack on an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility earlier this month, as well as back and forth claims about attacks on one another’s commercial shipping. Last week, the Israeli military struggled to explain why a rogue Syrian anti-aircraft missile was able to approach to within 40 km of a highly secretive Israeli nuclear site without getting shot down following an Israel Air Force attack on the close Iranian ally.

    Iran has long maintained that it has no intention to pursue nuclear weapons, with both of its successive supreme leaders issuing ‘fatwas’ (religious rulings) against the pursuit of nukes and other WMDs. At the same time, Tehran has also encouraged the international community to investigate Israel’s own suspected nuclear weapons stockpile, which Tel Aviv neither confirms nor denies exists.


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