21:53 GMT04 March 2021
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    Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged new US President Joe Biden to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, pledging that Tehran will implement its JCPOA obligations if Washington returns to compliance as well.

    Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi, has reportedly warned the US against returning to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

    "A return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, or even if it is a similar accord with several improvements, is bad and wrong from an operational and strategic point of view", he said during an address to Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) on Tuesday, as cited by Reuters.

    The general referred to Iran's increasing efforts to enrich uranium after the US unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, claiming that such activity may help the Islamic Republic finally obtain a nuclear weapon. Iran has repeatedly underscored that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.

    "In light of this fundamental analysis, I have instructed the Israel Defence Forces to prepare a number of operational plans, in addition to those already in place. It will be up to the political leadership, of course, to decide on implementation, but these plans need to be on the table", Kohavi pointed out, in apparent reference to Iran.

    Last year, the IDF chief of staff described Iran as "the most dangerous country in the Middle East", and pointed to the "significant progress" in Tehran's nuclear programme. Iran and Israel, who currently have no diplomatic ties, have repeatedly traded claims that the other side is the region's "biggest threat to peace".

    FILE PHOTO: Incoming Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi reviews an honour guard during a handover ceremony where he replaces Lieutenant-General Gadi Eizenkot, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel January 15, 2019
    © REUTERS / AMIR COHEN
    FILE PHOTO: Incoming Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi reviews an honour guard during a handover ceremony where he replaces Lieutenant-General Gadi Eizenkot, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel January 15, 2019

    Kohavi's INSS speech came after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday pointed the finger at the US for breaking the nuclear deal "for no reason", adding that Tehran will not be the first to show a "goodwill gesture" regarding the JCPOA.

    This was preceded by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani calling on US President Joe Biden to go back to the JCPOA and stressing that "the ball is in the US court now".

    The remarks came amid reports that the Biden team and Iran have been in talks for several weeks to discuss Washington's possible return to the nuclear deal.

    Iran Nuclear Deal

    The JCPOA has been in jeopardy since May 2018, when then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from the accord, saying it was flawed from the start and accusing Iran of trying to create nuclear weapons.

    At the time, the White House also reinstated harsh sanctions on the Iranian economy, while Tehran responded by gradually abandoning its obligations under the deal, which included the non-use of advanced centrifuges and adherence to limits on uranium enrichment levels.

    Newly sworn-in US President Joe Biden, however, made it plain that he is interested in talks with Iran, suggesting that a return to the JCPOA may be possible, although no official terms have been mentioned so far.

    Related:

    Iranian Lawmaker Accuses EU of Taking No Measures to Meet JCPOA Obligations
    Iran Does Not Intend to Leave the JCPOA - Foreign Ministry
    'If Europeans Ensure That Iran Benefits From Original Deal, Tehran Can Go Back Into JCPOA' - Analyst
    Tags:
    Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), nuclear deal, Israel Defence Forces (IDF), Israel, Iran, US
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