The US-Israel talks on Iran this week were positive and showed that the two countries are looking at the issue from a "much closer point of view," a senior Israeli official told Axios’ Barak Ravid on Wednesday.
The talks at the White House, which were the first of their kind since the new Israeli government assumed office, took place amid growing concerns over the unprecedented advancement of Iran's nuclear program.
The Israeli delegation, led by Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi included senior officials from the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Defense and the intelligence community who deal with Iran.
The US team, led by national security adviser Jake Sullivan, and the Israeli delegation “reviewed with significant concern advances in Iran’s nuclear program," the White House said in a statement.
The White House added that the two teams discussed the enhancement of the security partnership between Israel and the US and pledged to strengthen coordination on measures to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and to "further deter Iran’s hostile regional activities."
The officials also discussed the recent joint Israeli-US military exercises, which Israeli officials said were focused on training for a possible military strike against the Iranian nuclear program.
"The talks on Iran were really good. The discussions were on a very high level of openness," a senior Israeli official who attended the talks told Axios.
A second Israeli official with direct knowledge of the meeting said the talks reflected the fact that Israel and the US are much more aligned on Iran than before.
“A nuclear deal is not on the agenda, and the Iranians are helping Russia in Ukraine. We are in a new world and a different environment, and we are looking at this issue from a much closer point of view," the Israeli official said, adding that the talks were serious.
“It was a real discussion on Iran and not just a meeting to check the box. There was a lot of openness on the US side," the official told Axios.
The meeting between the US and Israeli delegations followed the discovery by UN inspectors of uranium enriched to 84% — nearly the level needed for nuclear weapons — at Iran's underground nuclear facility in Fordow.
Following that discovery, Rafael Grossi, head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, visited Tehran, where he received assurances from Iran that surveillance cameras at several nuclear sites would be reconnected and the pace of inspections increased.
The discovery of the uranium at near bomb level came talks between Iran and world powers on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal remain stalled and have been since September, when Iran submitted a response to a European Union proposal to revive the deal.
A senior Biden administration official said the Iranian response "is not at all encouraging.” A US official later said that the efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have “hit a wall” because of Iran's insistence on the closure of the UN nuclear watchdog's investigations.