- The Washington Times - Monday, November 29, 2021

Israeli leaders are escalating a lobbying campaign against the nuclear deal with Iran, even as expectations are low that resumed negotiations in Vienna this week will produce a breakthrough to revive the accord.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has taken a more low-key approach than predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu in his attempts to block a new agreement, but he released a new video message Monday warning the Biden administration and other world powers not to give in to “Iran‘s nuclear blackmail” in the push for a deal.

Iran has been steadily accelerating its suspect nuclear programs in the wake of then-President Trump’s decision in 2018 to pull out of the deal and reimpose harsh economic sanctions on Iran and its trading partners.

The government of recently elected hardline Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has said all those sanctions must be lifted before Iran will agree to the curbs on its nuclear programs in the 2015 deal negotiated by the Obama administration.

Mr. Bennett’s message to the countries negotiating with Iran — including the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany — warned that Tehran would seek to “end sanctions in exchange for almost nothing,” according to a video of the message seen by The Associated Press.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was delivering virtually the same message while on a trade trip to Britain Monday, warning that Tehran will seek to escape the sanctions while holding on to its secret nuclear programs.

“This is what they have done in the past. And this is what they will do this time as well,” Mr. Lapid told reporters in London. “The intelligence is clear, it leaves no doubt.”

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, echoing rising impatience in Washington about the lack of progress in talks this year with Iran, said the current round of talks in Vienna may be Tehran’s last chance to cut a deal.

“As far as I am concerned, these talks are the last opportunity for the Iranians to come to the table and agree to the [2015 nuclear deal],” Ms. Truss said, according to a Reuters news agency account. “… We will look at all options if that doesn’t happen.”

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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