Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday urged Western powers not to sign on to the revived nuclear deal with Iran as a final agreement appeared to be in the works.
Lapid said rolling back economic sanctions against Iran was essentially handing the country $100 billion a year to destabilize the Middle East.
The prime minister also called the emerging agreement a "bad deal'' and suggested that Biden has failed to honor the boundaries he had previously promised to set.
"The countries of the West draw a red line, the Iranians ignore it, and the red line moves,'' Lapid told reporters at a press conference in Jerusalem. An emerging deal, Lapid said, "does not meet the standards set by President Biden himself: preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state.''
The United States is expected to respond soon to a draft accord proposed by the EU that would restore the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, under which it curbed its disputed uranium enrichment program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Concern over Iran-Russia ties
"The sweeping removal of sanctions on sectors like banking — against financial institutions designated today as supporting terrorism — means the Iranians will have no problem whatsoever laundering money," Lapid said. "Iran will assist other nations facing sanctions to evade them," he added.
Lapid did not provide details of what his $100 billion figure was based on — or name nations that could dodge sanctions. However, some critics of the new nuclear deal have pointed out that Russia, a signatory to the 2015 accord but now under severe Western penalties itself, could assist Iran in evading sanctions.
On Wednesday, Iran launched exercises to test its combat and reconnaissance drones, state media reported, amid concerns in Washington that Tehran could supply Moscow with unmanned aircraft to aid its invasion of Ukraine.
US and Iran exchange comments on final draft
Lapid's protests came shortly before Iran confirmed it had received a response from the US on its own response to an EU-sponsored draft final proposal to bring back the nuclear deal.
"This evening Iran received the US response through the European Union. The careful review of the response has started in Tehran," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price confirmed that it had sent its review of Iran's prior comments to the EU on Wednesday.
The contents of Tehran's initial response and Washington's counter-response, however, were kept in the dark, leaving it unclear as to how close the two sides are to sealing a new deal.
ab, es/jcg (AP, Reuters)