North Korea’s warning that its military has been cleared to launch a nuclear
attack against the US should be on everyone’s mind as the Western powers sit
down again with Iran on Friday in Kazakhstan, Israeli leaders stressed on
“Today it is more clear than ever before that we simply cannot
allow a situation in which a regime that calls for our annihilation obtains the
weapons of annihilation,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – alluding to the
North Korean threats – said before a meeting with a five-member US Senate
delegation headed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York). “This must be
prevented at all costs.”
Earlier in the day, International Relations
Minister Yuval Steinitz told visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth
Eide that North Korea’s threats should be a flashing red light regarding
“The extreme regime in North Korea obtained nuclear weapons a short
time ago and already a significant nuclear threat is hovering over the citizens
of South Korea, Japan and even the western United States,” he said. “This
demonstrates to all of us what are the likely ramifications for Israel, the
Middle East and Europe of nuclear weapons in the hands of the extreme regime in
Israeli officials have low expectations of any progress coming out
of the talks, the second round in the Kazakhstan commercial center of Almaty in
the past 40 days.
So far the talks by the P5+1 – the US, China, Russia,
France, Britain and Germany – with Tehran have only succeeded in buying the
Iranians more time, one government official said. “The Iranians have a
deliberate strategy of trying to run out the clock.”
The official said it
was time for the international community to ratchet up the pressure on Iran, so
its leaders would understand that the world was committed to keeping them from
continuing to enrich uranium and would act to prevent the enriching of uranium
if the Iranians did not stop of their own accord.
of what the Iranians need to do are higher than that of the P5+1. While Israel
is demanding that the Iranians stop all uranium enrichment and ship out all the
enriched uranium in the country, the P5+1 proposal presented to the Iranians
calls for them to stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent, the level needed to
fuel nuclear reactors.
According to The Christian Science Monitor, the
proposal on the table calls on Iran to convert its existing 20% enriched uranium
into fuel for a research reactor, and export or dilute the rest.
while Israel is calling for the dismantling of the Fordow enrichment facility
near Qom, the Monitor reported that the P5+1 wants only to curtail its
functioning and turn it into a “reduced readiness status without
The proposal also calls on Iran to accept “enhanced”
monitoring of its nuclear facilities, including the placement of cameras at
In exchange for meeting their demands, the P5+1 is offering to
roll back some of the crippling economic sanctions, such as those on gold and
precious metals, and on oil exports.
A senior US administration official
said that the results of the Almaty talks would depend “on what the Iranians
come back with in terms of response on the substance of our
The proposal was made on February 26 at the previous round of
two-day talks in Almaty, followed by 12 hours of “technical talks” a couple of
weeks later in Istanbul to flesh out the proposals.
The officials said
there “has been a very positive line out of Tehran on the talks so far,” and
that he hoped this “positive talk will now be matched with some concrete
responses and actions on the Iranian side.”
While the US official sounded
cautiously optimistic, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili sounded a
defiant note ahead of the talks, saying the world had to recognize Iran’s right
to enrich uranium for there to be any breakthrough.
“We think our talks
tomorrow can go forward with one word. That is the acceptance of the rights of
Iran, particularly the right to enrichment,” he said at a university in
Reuters contributed to this report.