Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday he does not fear
standing alone as an advocate for increased economic pressure on Iran, even as
he assured the ministers that many in the international community shared
“I have been asked if I am concerned about standing alone
in an isolated position against the world. First of all, the answer is no,”
In the past months the prime minister has been portrayed
as leading a solitary campaign to increase economic pressure on Iran precisely
at a time when the international community is disposed to refrain from further
financial penalties as a good will gesture to help improve the chances of a
On Sunday Netanyahu defended that characterization,
even as he explained he does not believe its reflective of reality.
[halting Iran’s nuclear program] is vital and important for the security of
Israel and, in my view, the peace of the world. Then certainly we are willing to
stand alone in the face of world opinion or changing fashion,” Netanyahu
“But in fact we are not alone because most, if not all leaders,
those with whom I have spoken, agree with us.
There are those who say so
fully and there are those who whisper and there are those who say so privately.
But everyone understands that Iran cannot be allowed to retrain the ability to
be within reach of nuclear weapons,” he said.
The prime minister briefed
his cabinet on his conversation in Rome last week with US Secretary of State
John Kerry and explained that halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program was one of
the main topics in their seven hour meeting.
He also reacted to
conflicting reports out of Iran with regard to whether it had halted or
continued to enrich uranium up to 20 percent.
Netanyahu said the debate
was “unimportant” because the standard of 20% uranium enrichment was no longer a
sign of whether Iran would have nuclear military capacity.
importance of the issue became superfluous in the wake of the technological
improvements that allow Iran to enrich uranium from 3.5% to 90% in a number of
weeks,” Netanyahu said.
Israel believes that once that happens, Iran
would be able to produce a nuclear weapon.
It believes it has held off
from such production because of the economic sanctions that were leveled against
it and out of fear of the new round of sanctions which the US Senate was
expected to vote on this week.
The White House, however, has asked the
Senate to hold off on the vote as a gesture to Iran, which is now engaged in
negotiations with the six parties – the US, Russia, China, France, Great Britain
and Germany – to allow time for a diplomatic solution.
But Netanyahu has
told the US, that the economic pressure against Iran should be increased as long
as the country continues to enrich uranium and has not dismantled its nuclear
“The clear position that I outlined there during and
after the discussions and to the media, which we are presenting around the
world, is that Iran must dismantle its enrichment ability and its heavy water
reactor as part of the process of preventing it from achieving nuclear weapons,”
“And because it is continuing to enrich, sanctions must
be increased. Iran with nuclear weapons will change the Middle East and the
world for the worse.”
Meanwhile, Yukiya Amano, director-general of the
International Atomic Energy Association, is expected to meet with Iranian Deputy
Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi at IAEA headquarters in Vienna on
The meeting is expected to last an hour and will be followed that
same day by a new round of negotiations between senior officials from both sides
over a stalled IAEA investigation into suspected atomic bomb research by Iran,
which denies the charge.
In Geneva on November 7 and 8, the six parties
will renew their negotiations with Iran.
Also in Washington this week,
Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will hold a briefing on Thursday on the
status of nuclear talks with Iran for members of a US Senate committee
considering tough new sanctions on Tehran, Senate aides said on
Reuters contributed to this report.