The U.S. views the threat of “rapid rebound” sanctions as a tool to stop Iran’s enrichment

National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan told Israeli officials during his recent visit to Jerusalem that the threat of the UN Security Council’s “quick restoration” sanctions should be used as a means to stop Iran from enriching weapons-grade uranium. Three Israeli officials with direct knowledge of the issue told me.

Why is it important: Snapback is the most important mechanism in the 2015 agreement, used to punish Iran that violates the agreement. According to the agreement, any party to the agreement can trigger sanctions.

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  • The sanctions will cause particularly serious damage to the Iranian economy, because all UN member states must comply.

  • Iran continues to accelerate its nuclear program while also participating in nuclear negotiations in Vienna. Israel has warned its Western allies that Tehran is taking technical measures to enrich the uranium to a purity of 90%.

Behind-the-scenes: Israel has now been pushing the United States and E3 — France, Germany, and the United Kingdom — to increase pressure on Iran and increase the possibility of triggering a rebound of sanctions.

  • Israeli officials said that so far, only the United Kingdom is open to the idea of ​​”rebound.”

  • The United States has been arguing to the Israelis that the pressure needs to be balanced with diplomacy, and that Israel’s sabotage of Iran’s nuclear facilities actually caused the Iranians to speed up their plans.

At the meeting on December 22 Israeli officials said that at the US-Israel-Iran Strategic Forum, Sullivan said he was very worried that the Iranians felt that they were getting closer to the possibility of nuclear weapons.

  • Officials said Sullivan said he did not know whether additional pressure or lack of pressure from the United States was more likely to cause Iran to get closer to the bomb.

  • But he said that in addition to strengthening the credibility of the military threat to Iran, the threat of rapid sanctions should also be used to prevent Iran from increasing its uranium enrichment to 90% purity.

the other side: Israeli Foreign Ministry officials told Sullivan that they believe that if the Vienna negotiations are deadlocked, regardless of Iran’s enrichment level, the United States and E3 should continue to impose rapid sanctions.

  • But at the end of the meeting, Sullivan’s Israeli colleague Eyal Hulata agreed to use snapback as a deterrent to 90% enrichment.

A senior government official told Axios The United States will not comment on private diplomatic deliberations, but said: “The United States and Israel are closely aligned on the security threat posed by Iran. Jack Sullivan’s visit last month confirmed this consistency.”

Game status: The eighth round of nuclear negotiations resumed in Vienna this week.

Bottom line: Israeli officials stated that Sullivan stated at the US-Israel meeting that if an agreement cannot be reached in Vienna within a few weeks and the Iranians are not in good faith to negotiate, the United States should withdraw from the negotiations.

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