Tel Aviv (AFP), September 11 – Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid was visiting Germany on Sunday as part of his latest diplomatic effort to persuade Western powers to abandon their tattered nuclear deal with the Jewish state’s archenemy Iran.
Israel has long opposed a revival of the 2015 deal, which has been moribund since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 and reimposed biting sanctions on Tehran.
The momentum that built towards a reinstated deal last month appears to have slowed, after the three European nations party to the deal – Germany, France and Britain – on Saturday raised ” serious doubts” about Iran’s sincerity in reinstating the deal.
Meeting with his cabinet before flying to Berlin, Lapid thanked these three powers for the “firm position” they had expressed in a tripartite declaration on Saturday.
The European parties accused Tehran “of choosing not to seize this critical diplomatic opportunity”, adding that “instead, Iran continues to escalate its nuclear program far beyond any plausible civilian justification”. . Iran’s Foreign Ministry called the comments “unconstructive”.
Lapid told his office that “Israel is waging a successful diplomatic campaign to stop the nuclear deal and prevent the lifting of sanctions against Iran.
“It’s not over yet,” he added. “There is still a long way to go, but there are encouraging signs.”
An Israeli diplomatic official, who requested anonymity, told AFP that Iran will be at the center of the talks when the delegation lands in Berlin.
“It is important to continue to coordinate positions and influence the European position. Germany has an important role to play in this,” the official said.
Lapid, who was traveling with senior security officials, is due to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier before returning to Israel on Monday evening.
The 2015 agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, granted sanctions relief to Iran in return for curtailing its nuclear program.
Ongoing negotiations in Vienna since April 2021 have sought to restore the deal, lifting sanctions on Tehran and pushing Iran to fully honor its previous nuclear commitments.
Israel insists that Iran would use revenue from sanctions relief to bolster allied groups capable of attacking Israelis, including the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two key Palestinian militant organizations.
Last month, the European Union, which is mediating the nuclear talks, presented a “final” draft agreement.
Iran and the United States then took turns responding to the text, with Washington declaring on Friday that Tehran’s response was a “backward” step.
Lapid, whose late father survived the Holocaust, is also traveling with a delegation of survivors who will join him and Scholz on a visit to Wannsee, site of a 1942 conference where senior Nazi officials finalized plans. plans to send Jews to death camps.