Israel is concerned that U.S. President Barack Obama will reach a bad nuclear deal with Iran ahead of the midterm elections in November, an Israeli official told Reuters on Wednesday.
"We would be happy to see July 20 pass without a deal," an Israeli government adviser told the news agency, referring to the deadline by which Iran and the West are aiming to reach a permanent deal on Iran’s disputed nuclear program.
The official added that there was worry in Israel that Obama, facing possible gains by Republican rivals in the midterm elections, might be tempted to accommodate Iran now.
The official, who spoke as National Security Adviser Susan Rice visited Israel and met local leaders, said that Israel insists Iran be denied uranium enrichment capabilities under the potential deal.
"Are we going to agree on enrichment? No," the adviser told Reuters.
Under a six-month interim deal which was reached in November and went into effect in January, Iran agreed to freeze its uranium enrichment program in return for sanctions relief worth some $6-7 billion, including the transfer of some $4.2 billion in frozen overseas funds.
That interim agreement is meant to lead to a final accord that minimizes any potential Iranian nuclear weapons threat in return for a full lifting of sanctions.
Israel has openly criticized the deal that was reached between Iran and Western powers in talks in Geneva, explaining that it allows Iran to continue its nuclear program while getting sanctions relief. That position has put Israel at odds with Washington, to the point that reports indicated that Obama had told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “not to be so vocal” with his criticism of the deal.
Iran has insisted that it will not give up its right to enrich uranium as part of a permanent deal, while the lead U.S. negotiator, Wendy Sherman, has said that the United States would be willing to consider allowing Iran some uranium enrichment in a final nuclear deal.