On the eve of the third round of talks between Iran and the world powers expected to begin Monday in Moscow, Israeli officials urged the international community to better impress upon Tehran that they will face military action if their nuclear march is not stopped.
“Our position is that the international community needs to do three things for the talks to be successful,” an official said Sunday. “Make its demands crystal clear and tied to a clear timeline for implementation, ratchet up the economic and diplomatic pressure, and augment that pressure by making clear there is a credible military option.” The official, reflecting a position that has been percolating for weeks in Jerusalem, said there is a sense the Iranians are not yet convinced that when the US or others say that “all options are on the table,” they actually mean it.
Only if the regime in Iran believes that the continuation of the nuclear program is totally unacceptable, and the world will not allow it even if it means military action, will diplomacy work, the official said.
“We would like the international community to say that these are our demands, these are our sanctions, comply...or else, “ he said. “Just as we think the sanctions have to be beefed up, this position must be clearly stated.”
The official said there was a need for greater specificity when repeating the mantra “all options are on the table.”
In recent weeks differences between Israel and the US administration over the world powers’ negotiating strategy with Iran have come out into the open, with the group of nations negotiating with Iran known as the P5+1 – the US, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany – focused on getting the Iranians to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, while Israel maintains Iran must stop all uranium enrichment at any level.
In addition to ending all uranium enrichment, Israel is also calling for Iran to transfer all of the already enriched uranium in its possession out of the country, and to close down the underground nuclear facility at Qom.
Israel was critical of the two previous rounds of talks the P5+1 held with Iran this year – with one round held in Baghdad last month, and the other held in Istanbul in April – saying the demands on Iran were too low and were enabling the Iranians to continue their nuclear development even as they negotiated with the world.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in an interview earlier this month with Germany’s Bild newspaper, said: “The P5+1 are so keen on getting any agreement that they have lowered the demands.”
Israel’s position on what demands should be made of Tehran was buttressed Friday by the US Congress, when a bipartisan letter signed by 44 senators was sent to Obama, urging him to end negotiations unless Iran halted all enrichment and closed the facility at Qom.
The Moscow talks are coming 10 days before the US is to implement a series of tough sanctions on Iran’s oil clients, and two weeks before the EU begins its embargo of Iranian oil.