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Biden aide Sullivan says Iran may exhaust diplomacy

December 23, 2021

US national security advisor Jake Sullivan is in Israel to discuss Iran and other issues. In Jerusalem, Sullivan said Iran may exhaust diplomacy within weeks.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (R) meets with United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (L) at Prime Minister's office in West Jerusalem on December 22, 2021.
Jake Sullivan (left) was in Israel and later the Palestinian Territories on WednesdayImage: Israeli Government Press Office/AA/picture alliance

US national security advisor Jake Sullivan was in Jerusalem Wednesday on a visit to Israel to meet with counterparts where he warned Iran was within weeks of exhausting diplomatic options to achieve a new nuclear deal.

Sullivan told reporters, "We're not circling a date on the calendar in public, but I can tell you that behind closed doors we are talking about timeframes, and they are not long." He did however say "weeks" as a hint as to what that timeframe might look like.

Ahead of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Sullivan said the US and Israel needed a "common strategy," adding his meeting with Bennett comes during a "critical juncture for both of our countries on a major set of security issues."

According to National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne, Sullivan "reaffirmed the firm commitment of the United States to ensuring Iran never gets a nuclear weapon" during the talks. 

What did Bennett say about Iran?

Bennett noted, "What happens in Vienna has profound ramifications for the stability of the Middle East and the security of Israel for the upcoming years."

Israel has criticized the Iran nuclear deal and efforts to achieve curbs on Iran's nuclear program through negotiation, arguing Tehran is holding the world hostage with "nuclear blackmail."

After meeting Bennett, Sullivan headed to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

What is the status of the Iran nuclear deal?

Last month, negotiations in Vienna resumed over efforts to curtail the Iran nuclear program.  Those negotiations are on hold as of last week as Iran's negotiator returned to Tehran for consultations.

Talks on Iran nuclear deal resume

The original 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for restrictions on the development of the country's nuclear program. Former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and re-imposed  sanctions.

Since the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, Iran gradually started to violate some terms of the deal. Iran has resumed enriching uranium and spinning centrifuges beyond the terms of the deal.

ar/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)