White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has stated that an Israeli delegation's visit to Washington, DC this week will not change the nation's stance on rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Touching upon the JCPOA-related negotiations with Iran in Vienna, she told reporters late last week that while the White House "knew they would be challenging", Washington is "encouraged that there are still conversations between all parties and that they're still happening".
"As it relates to Israel, we have kept them abreast, as a key partner of these discussions, of our intentions and we will continue to do that on any future visits", Psaki added.
Netanyahu Reportedly Instructs Israeli Delegation to Object to JCPOA Restoration During Talks With US
She spoke after media reports said the Israeli delegation, due to arrive in the US to participate in strategic talks on Iran, was instructed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deliver an objection from Tel Aviv regarding the revival of the JCPOA and refuse to negotiate the deal's substance.
The delegation is expected to be headed by Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.
The reports were preceded by Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterating his position on the JCPOA, suggesting that its possible resumption would put the Jewish State in danger.
The prime minister also noted that Tel Aviv would not agree with the treaty's terms as the country is not a party to the deal, adding that Israel would act only in line with its own national security interests.
The remarks came amid the ongoing negotiations on the JCPOA in Vienna that kicked off on 6 April and are being attended by representatives of Russia, the US, the UK, France, and China as well as Iran and Germany.
Last week, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell noted that "important progress" had been achieved during the Vienna talks. US State Department spokesman Ned Price, for his part, pointed out that the negotiations have been positive, but that a long road remains ahead. He was echoed by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzade, who insisted that the talks "are on the right track".
This followed the newspaper Israel Hayom quoting unnamed sources as saying that Tel Aviv is concerned over a "complete folding of America" to Iran amid the Vienna talks.
"The Americans may want to believe that they will reach a better agreement in the future, but once they return to the original agreement they lose their leverage against Iran, which has no interest in changing the current deal. This promise is a lie or naive", the sources claimed.
Israel has repeatedly pledged to do its best to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and earlier this year, Israeli Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan warned that Washington and Tel Aviv would go their separate ways on Iran policy if the Biden administration returns to the JCPOA.
US, Iran at Odds Over JCPOA Revival
As the Biden administration signalled its intention to revive US participation in the nuclear deal, it also demanded that Tehran return to its commitments under the 2015 agreement, which the Islamic Republic began to step away from in 2019, a year after the White House's withdrawal.
Tehran, however, insists that it is Washington who should take the first step by scrapping economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
After the US left the accord, the Islamic Republic stepped away from its JCPOA commitments, prompting criticism and allegations that the country was trying to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran has consistently stated that its nuclear programme is purely peaceful.