Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will flood the European media in coming days
with interviews trying to sway public opinion against easing sanctions on Iran
in return for what Jerusalem views as cosmetic concessions.
media blitz comes as The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Iran
will come to talks in Geneva next week with the world powers – the US, Russia,
China, Germany, France and Britain – willing to stop enriching uranium to
20-percent purity, which is close to weapons-grade capability.
to the report, the Islamic Republic – in exchange for scaling back the sanctions
– will also be willing to open up its nuclear facilities to more invasive
international inspections, and is considering closing the underground
uranium enrichment facility near Qom.
Intelligence Minister Yuval
Steinitz, who met on Wednesday with the head of the French team to the
negotiations with Iran, called what Iran was reportedly willing to bring to the
“Closing the facility in Qom means that Iran will be
able to produce in its first year of nuclearization five bombs instead of six,”
he said. “Giving up on enriching to 20% is less significant at a time when Iran
already has 20,000 centrifuges.”
Steinitz said that Israel was amenable
to a “true and serious diplomatic solution” whereby Iran’s nuclear capabilities
would be similar to those of Canada or Mexico – it would be able to generate
electricity from a reactor, but would need to buy the nuclear fuel to work the
reactors from another country.
Netanyahu stressed at the UN last week and
in numerous interviews afterward that Iran must do four things: stop all
enrichment, remove from its control all its stockpiles of enriched uranium,
close down the facility at Qom, and stop all work on the heavy water reactor at
Arak aimed at producing a plutonium path toward a bomb.
quoting from what Iranian President Hassan Rouhani himself said in 2005,
explained that a country that can enrich uranium to 3.5% will also have the
capability to enrich to weapons grade 90%, and that having the fuel cycle
capability “virtually means” that a country possesses the capability to produce
For that reason, he said, Iran must not be left with any
capacity to enrich uranium at any level.
An Israeli government official
said that the Wall Street Journal report confirmed what Netanyahu said last week
in New York
: that the Iranians were angling for a deal that would relieve
sanctions but keep the fundamentals of their program in place.
the Iranian strategy that we have warned about all along,” he said. “Cosmetic
concessions that leave the heart of their program in place and gives them
breakout capacity to build a nuclear weapon at a time of their
The official described “break-out capacity” as the Iranian’s
ability – when they desire – to produce the necessary amount of fissile material
for a bomb. With the number and advanced nature of the centrifuges they have in
place, the official said that if they were not barred from all enrichment, “they
can go from low enrichment to high [weapons-grade] enrichment in a matter of
The official said that Netanyahu’s message to the Europeans in
the five days that remain before the start of the talks will be that “no deal is
better then a bad deal,” and that the deal that the Iranians will apparently
propose is a bad one."