The US Secretary of Defense arrives in Israel in the middle of Iran nuclear talks

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Secretary of Defense Benny Gantz. Photo: AFP / File

TEL AVIV: US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived in Israel on Sunday after talks resumed on reviving Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal.

Austin’s visit comes just days after Washington said it had offered “very serious” ideas to revive the bumpy deal that Israel strongly opposes.

Austin’s first planned stop on the two-day trip was a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Israel under Hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a fierce critic of Iran’s nuclear deal and goes all the way back to when it was negotiated under Barack Obama’s administration.

Netanyahu applauded as Trump withdrew from the deal, imposing sanctions on Tehran, which responded by stepping down from several of its obligations under the deal.

In the latest breach of its obligations in the troubled deal, Tehran announced on Saturday that it had started advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges.

President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated a cascade of 164 IR-6 centrifuges for the production of enriched uranium as well as two test cascades of 30 IR-5 and 30 IR-6S units, respectively, at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant in a state television ceremony.

An “accident” occurred in Nantaz on Sunday but caused no loss or injury, Father’s news agency reported.

In an address marking the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Israel would not be bound by a nuclear deal that would allow the Islamic Republic to develop nuclear weapons.

“An agreement with Iran that would pave the way for nuclear weapons, weapons that threaten our extinction, would not force us in any way,” the veteran right-wing prime minister said.

Biden has said he is ready to return to the deal, arguing that until the withdrawal of Washington, the deal had been successful in dramatically reducing Iran’s nuclear activities.

But Washington has demanded Iranian movement back against compliance, while Tehran has insisted on ending all US restrictions, with each side demanding that the other take the first step.

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