Nuclear talks in Vienna
Nuclear talks in Vienna Reuters

Israel has sent an envoy to nuclear talks in Vienna to meet with US and other officials as the negotiations reach crunch time, Israeli officials said on Tuesday, according to Barak Ravid of Axios.

This marks the first time since the Vienna talks began last April that Israel has sent a diplomat to the negotiations.

The Israeli envoy, Joshua Zarka, is the head of the Israeli foreign ministry's strategic department. He is there to receive updates and make clear the Israeli position about a possible return to the 2015 nuclear deal, said the Israeli officials.

“Zarka went to Vienna to check what is cooking. He met everyone other than the Iranians," a senior Israeli official told Ravid.

Zarka on Monday spoke with Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). On Tuesday, he met with US negotiator Rob Malley and negotiators from Russia, China, France, UK and Germany, according to Ravid’s report.

Israeli officials are very concerned that in the last days of the talks, the US and other world powers will make more concessions that will turn the 2015 nuclear agreement into an even worse deal than they think it is now.

The talks to revive the 2015 deal with Iran on its nuclear program resumed in Vienna several days ago.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with world powers in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

However, it has held several rounds of indirect talks with the US on reviving the deal. The talks are being mediated by the remaining five countries that are party to the deal.

Negotiators from the three European countries involved in the negotiations recently said the talks are reaching their final stage and now require political input.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week that talks with Iran have reached an urgent point and warned that it will be impossible to return to the Iran nuclear deal if an agreement is not reached in coming weeks.

On Monday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said an agreement to revive the 2015 nuclear deal is "at hand", but insisted that sanctions be "truly lifted".

"The rights of the Iranian people must be respected," he stressed.