With the world powers set to meet Iran for another round of talks in Moscow in less than two weeks, Israeli officials said on Wednesday it was critical for the world to “upgrade the threat perception inside Iran.”
“Only if the Iranian regime believes the international community is determined that one way or another they won’t be allowed to develop nuclear weapons will the international pressure have a chance of succeeding,” one official said.
The international community has for some time declared that “all options are on the table” he said. “Now they must say it more clearly.”
The official said enhancing the threat perception was the third prong in a threepronged strategy to get Iran to halt its nuclear program that must also include the continuation and stiffening of economic sanctions, and an “upgrade” by the international community of its demands on Iran.
In recent days Jerusalem has stepped up its criticism of the negotiation stance taken by the world powers – the US, China, Russia, France, Britain and German – toward Iran. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in an interview with the German Bild daily published Wednesday that the world powers known as the P5+1 had set the bar far too low.
“The Iranians were only asked to stop 20 percent enrichment of uranium.
That doesn’t stop their nuclear program in any way.
It actually allows them to continue their nuclear program,” Netanyahu said.
One official said that while in previous rounds of talks the international community had demanded an end to all uranium enrichment, now the demand was only to halt enrichment to 20%.
The demands on Iran have actually been lowered, the official said.
Iran, meanwhile, questioned the world powers’ readiness for negotiations , accusing the International Atomic Energy Agency of behaving like a Westernmanipulated intelligence agency, keeping up its sparring ahead of talks in Moscow.
Iranian media said Tehran had written twice to the P5+1 seeking preparatory meetings before the talks due on June 18, but had yet to hear back.
“The other side’s delay in meeting deputies and experts throws doubt and ambiguity on their readiness for successful talks,” Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili said in a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, according to the IRNA news agency. Ashton is handling contacts with Iran on behalf of the six powers.
Diplomats say Iran may offer the IAEA increased cooperation in separate talks on Friday as a bargaining chip in the discussions in Moscow with the P5+1 later this month.
But Iran’s IAEA Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh showed little appetite for making concessions, telling reporters in Vienna where he is attending the IAEA’s board of governors meeting, “Unfortunately the agency, which is supposed to be an international technical organization, is somehow playing the role of an intelligence agency.”
Full transparency and cooperation with the IAEA is one of the elements the world powers are seeking from Iran.
Israel has said that the world should be asking for an end to all uranium enrichment, the transfer of all enriched uranium out of the country, and the closing of the underground facility at Qom.
Israel’s representative at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting, Ehud Azoulay, said Tehran was proceeding at an “accelerated path towards acquiring nuclear weapons capability.” He said Iran was engaged in nuclear “deception, defiance and concealment.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman expanded on this theme at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday, saying it was “obvious to all that Iran is trying to hide proof of its nuclear program, but we can see proof in satellite photos.”
According to Liberman, Iran is prepared to pay a price for nuclear weapons, and sanctions alone will not stop their aspirations.
The foreign minister also slammed former security officials who have said that an attack on Iran will not be effective, saying that their “hyperactive chatter” is damaging and moves international attention to Israel, instead of Iran.
Liberman added that the Iranians “try to hurt our representatives around the world every single day” He also pointed out that Iran is helping Syrian President Bashar Assad stay in power. “Assad is stronger than what [IDF] intelligence has been saying,” he stated.
“At the same time, I don’t think there is a chance he will stay in power.”
Reuters contributed to this report.