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Biden taps former ambassador Dan Shapiro as US liaison to Israel on Iran

State Department officials said Shapiro would work under US special envoy to Iran Robert Malley, according to Walla News
Shapiro would would coordinate with Israel on Iran's nuclear programme, but especially on Iranian activity in the region
Shapiro will coordinate with Israel on Iran's nuclear programme, but especially on Iranian activity in the region (AFP/File photo)

The Biden administration has appointed Dan Shapiro, the former US ambassador to Israel, to work with the State Department's Iran policy team, Israeli media reported on Monday.

State Department officials told Walla News that Shapiro would work under Robert Malley, the US special envoy to Iran, and would coordinate with Israel on Iran's nuclear programme, but especially on Iranian activity in the region.

Axios reported on Sunday that Shapiro began the role last week and advised White House officials before US President Joe Biden hosted Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for talks on Iran.

Since taking office in January, Biden and his administration have sought a return to the accord but negotiations have hit an impasse since they began in April. The last round of negotiations in June ended without a set date for the next round.

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Former US President Donald Trump left the deal in 2018 and reimposed devastating sanctions on Tehran. Iran continued to abide by the agreement but since 2019 has begun to reduce its commitments.

Bennett pledged to Biden during their Friday meeting that despite opposing a potential Washington move to rejoin the deal, he will not wage a public campaign against a possible American return to the accord, a senior Israeli official told the Times of Israel.

Bennett has sought to move on from former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's combative public style and has promised that any objections he has to a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal would be discussed privately with the White House in a bid to repair strained ties with the Democratic Party and maintain a more bipartisan position with its closest ally.

According to a report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) earlier this month, Iran had increased the purity to which it is refining uranium to 60 percent fissile purity from 20 percent in April. Weapons-grade enrichment is around 90 percent purity.

Iran has insisted its nuclear aims are entirely peaceful and that it is developing a new type of reactor fuel.