Israel will “strongly oppose” a proposal that world powers are “examining”
regarding Iran’s nuclear program, senior Israeli officials said Wednesday
According to the officials – who said the proposal calls for
Tehran to stop uranium enrichment to 20 percent and slow work on its hard-water
reactor in exchange for sanctions relief – Jerusalem views this as a “bad
The officials’ comments came on the eve of talks set to begin
Thursday in Geneva between Iran and the P5+1, made up of the US, Russia, China,
Britain, France and Germany.
The officials said that Iranian President
Hassan Rouhani himself had admitted that a country that retains the ability to
enrich uranium to 3.5% has the capability to build a bomb.
calling on the P5+1 to adamantly oppose any Iranian uranium
Israel’s assessment is that the current sanctions are hurting
Iran, putting the P5+1 in a “very strong” negotiating position.
to this assessment, the P5+1 is now in a position to compel Iran to cease all
enrichment, dismantle the centrifuges and end all work on the heavy water
reactor at Arak.
The US hopes to come out of the talks with an
enforceable interim agreement by the end of the week.
A day ahead of the
discussion, one US official said that the Obama administration wants to put
“additional time on the clock” to stave off a crisis.
“What we’re looking
for is a first phase, a first step, an initial understanding that stops Iran’s
nuclear program from moving forward and rolls it back for the first time in
decades,” a senior administration official told reporters on
Washington would be willing to offer Iran “very limited,
temporary, reversible sanctions relief” in return for meaningful and verifiable
concessions from the Iranians, the official said.
The P5+1 negotiators
are set to reenter talks after the first round produced mixed
The US and Iranian governments called the discussions
constructive at the time, but the Russian delegation said that the conference
was no more fruitful than failed multilateral efforts from years
“We will not make a bad deal, if a deal can be made at all,” Kerry
said in Jerusalem, sitting alongside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after
meeting with him to discuss Iran and the Middle East peace
Stakes are high for the talks, as lawmakers in Washington are
threatening a punishing new sanctions bill targeting Iran’s oil sector and
foreign exchange reserves should the P5+1 fail to secure a deal in short
“I would really want to see something significant by the end of
[this] week,” Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Foreign Relations
Committee, told The Jerusalem Post in a phone interview.
negotiator said on Tuesday that a framework deal with world powers on its
nuclear program was “possible this week,” but warned to keep expectations in
“I believe there is a lot of work to be done,” Iranian Foreign
Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told France 24 television during a visit to Paris.
“We have made some progress, but there is a great deal of mistrust in Iran
concerning the attitude, behavior and approach of some members of the P5+1. If
we don’t make a breakthrough at this round, it’s not a disaster.”
eve of the talks, Netanyahu used the photo op with Kerry to again urge the P5+1
not to give Iran any sanctions relief.
Netanyahu stressed that the “death
to America” chants that reverberated through the streets of Tehran earlier this
week, on the 34th anniversary of the siege of the US embassy, reflected the true
face of that nation’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“I think this
attitude, buttressed by a policy of terror worldwide – supporting Hezbollah,
Hamas and all the forces that are against peace, and which is participating in
the mass murder in Syria – I think such a regime must not have the world’s most
dangerous weapon,” he said.
Netanyahu said that as long as Iran continues
to enrich uranium, the sanctions pressure should be maintained and even
Israel is seeking a “full, peaceful dismantling of Iran’s
nuclear weapons capabilities – end of all enrichment, end of all centrifuges,
and end of the plutonium reactor,” he said.
“If this is achieved, I
welcome it. I’d be very wary of any partial deals that enable Iran to maintain
those capabilities but begin to reduce sanctions, because this could undermine
the longevity and durability of the sanctions regime.”
America’s goal on Iran was that it only have a “peaceful nuclear
He said it was “incumbent on the world to know with certainty
that it is a peaceful program and there is no capacity to produce a weapon of
mass destruction. That is our goal.”
Washington’s Institute for Science
and International Security released a report this week outlining what would be
required of an interim agreement to have a meaningful effect on the progress of
In the report, David Albright said that Iran would have to
halt the manufacturing and installation of new, super-efficient IR2M
centrifuges, disable those already installed, and disable all centrifuges at
their Fordow mountain facility outside Qom. It would also have to not only halt
enrichment of uranium to 20%, but convert existing stockpiles of uranium already
enriched to that level into gas form.
Construction and fueling of their
heavy water plutonium reactor in Arak – effectively an insurance plan for their
uranium enrichment program – would have to stop in its tracks, the report added.
And international monitors would have to be given unfettered, daily access to
all their facilities in order to ensure that all conditions of the deal are
being adhered to.
Iran’s government says it considers uranium enrichment
an “inalienable right,” representing perhaps the greatest hurdle in the
Reuters contributed to this report.