The United Arab Emirates and Israel are pressuring the United States to provide them with security guarantees against Iran, according to a report Monday.
The two countries have been in contact with Washington officials about formulating a coherent defense plan for the region in case a new Iran nuclear deal is signed, Bloomberg reported, citing several sources familiar with the matter.
Israel and the UAE reportedly approached the Biden administration separately, but have been coordinating their approaches.
The report said Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi want the plan to include the bolstering of missile defenses and intelligence sharing.
According to the report, Israeli and Emirati officials have voiced concerns that a new nuclear deal will give Iran a gusher of oil money with which to further fund and arm its regional proxies.
Gulf Arab governments and Israel staunchly opposed the 2015 deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which curbed Iran’s nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.
The suspension of the nuclear talks last week, coupled with Washington’s desire to ease the volatility in the current oil market as it continues sanctions against Russia, has given Saudi Arabia and the UAE more leverage as leaders in Opec.
Three people told Bloomberg that last week, Barbara Leaf, the senior Middle East director at the White House’s National Security Council, visited Abu Dhabi and met with the country’s security chief, Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed, along with Sultan Al Jaber, who heads the state oil firm, Adnoc.
The discussions centred around the UAE’s demand for security guarantees and Biden’s desire to squeeze more crude barrels out of Opec, they said. Following the meeting, the UAE’s ambassador to Washington said Abu Dhabi would call on fellow members of Opec+, led by Riyadh and which includes Russia, to increase oil output.
In a related development, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said on Monday that his country’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, would be visiting Moscow on Tuesday to discuss the current crisis in the nuclear talks.
The meeting follows Russia’s demand that it be allowed to continue to trade with Iran despite Western sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Iran said on Monday that it expects negotiations on the nuclear accord to resume shortly in Vienna despite Russian demands that they be suspended.
The talks, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said, are on a short recess and not deadlocked. The purpose of the recess is to come to additional understandings, he explained, and the talks are in their “final crucial steps,” which he said are the most difficult in negotiations of this kind.
Sources: Middle East Eye, Times of Israel, Haaretz