The only thing talks between Iran and the world’s powers have achieved until now is buy Tehran more time, Israeli officials said Sunday, following EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s comment that the P5+1 group is eager to restart the talks.
“We are skeptical in the extreme,” one official said of a new round of talks. He said there was no hope the talks would help “unless the Iranians feel the pressure is being upgraded.”
Ashton phoned new Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday, just after he was inaugurated in his post, to congratulate him on his appointment. According to a statement put out by her spokesperson, Ashton “underlined her continued determination and commitment to seek a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.”
Ashton said that the world powers known as the P5+1 – the US, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain – were “ready to work with the new Iranian negotiating team as soon as they were appointed.”
According to the statement, Ashton “confirmed the need for substantial talks that will lead to concrete results swiftly.”
The statement said the two also discussed regional issues and “agreed to meet soon.”
The last round of P5+1 talks took place in Astana, Kazakhstan, in April.
Even as the international community is expressing interest in engaging with the new Iranian government led by President Hassan Rouhani, the message Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stresses with nearly all visitors from abroad is that that Iran must be judged by deeds, not words.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), who met Netanyahu with a delegation of 28 congressmen on Friday, said that even as the situation in Egypt continues to deteriorate, Syria continues to implode, and the talks with the Palestinians have restarted, the prime minister’s main message was the need to keep Iran from achieving nuclear weapons. Netanyahu also stressed to the group that Iran had its “tentacles” in much of the instability in the region.
Israel’s position since the election of Rouhani in June is that the international pressure must be sustained and even ratcheted up, even though there are those saying Rouhani is a “moderate” who should be given a chance.
Rouhani, meanwhile, made clear Saturday that he would distance himself from the confrontational approach of his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying during Zarif’s inauguration that the principles of Iran’s foreign policy will remain “consistent and stable,” but that the style and method will “undergo major changes.”