Israeli intelligence officials days ago told Axios that they beleive a restoration of US participation in the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) is as little as "weeks" away. Top Israeli officials have lately tried to lobby Washington against pursuing the ongoing Vienna talks.
"We are not very optimistic to say the least," a senior Israeli official had said to Axios. "We will not be surprised if within weeks the US and other world powers sign a deal with Iran."
This assessment appears to be accurate, as the latest statement out Tuesday from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani indicates the negotiating sides have already resolved 60-70% of the key barriers that previously stood in the way of restoring the deal.
In the face of recent Israel 'sabotage attacks' - particularly against the Natanz enrichment facility on April 11, which Tehran had denounced as "nuclear sabotage" - Iran's leaders have remained resolute in seeing Vienna talks through, essentially boasting that Tel Aviv's machinations will not stand in their way.
The Times of Israel presented Rouhani's latest words on the Vienna talks as follows:
The "negotiations have achieved 60-70 percent progress," Rouhani said, according to the IRNA news agency.
"If the Americans act honestly, we will reach a conclusion in little time," he added.
US statements have also suggested 'positive' signs but have still emphasized "a long road ahead". "I think it’s fair to say we have more road ahead of us than in the rearview mirror," US State Department Spokesman Ned Price said this week.
It's as yet unclear how quickly the US side said it's willing to drop sanctions, which has been the firm and unwavering position of the Islamic Republic from the start. At this point for Rouhani to give such an optimistic assessment of "70 percent progress" on key issues, Washington must have vowed significant and rapid sanctions relief.
Meanwhile, with the writing on the wall for Tel Aviv, Israeli officials are now doing some damage control in terms of pressing for at least more far-reaching nuclear inspections and oversight as part of the US return to the deal. Israel is also attempting to spotlight Iran's conventional ballistic missile program:
Israel is lobbying the US to include improvements to the oversight of Iran’s nuclear program, the Kan public broadcaster reported on Tuesday night. Jerusalem is pushing for International Atomic Energy Agency officials to have greater powers in inspecting the nuclear sites, according to the report.
Mossad intelligence agency director Yossi Cohen and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat will both head to the US early next week to push the position on Jerusalem’s behalf, the report said.
Recently the Biden administration reportedly told the Israelis to stop the covert attacks against Iranian assets which appear bent on derailing the Vienna process.
Israeli media reported over the weekend that in backchannel communications the White House voiced "displeasure" not only with recent covert attacks - particularly the April 11 Natanz nuclear site incident - but its willingness to 'leak' its culpability to the public.
The next round of talks in Vienna are expected to commence in earnest next week.