Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday urged Germany to help bar Iran from enriching uranium, as it works along with five other world powers to hammer out an agreement with Tehran on its nuclear program.
“The goal is to prevent Iran from having the capability to manufacture and deliver nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu told German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a joint press conference the two leaders held in Jerusalem.
“I believe that means zero enrichment, zero centrifuges, zero plutonium, and of course an end to ICBM development.
Because none of these elements – none of them – is necessary for developing civilian nuclear energy, which is what Iran has claimed that it wants,” he said.
Iran has insisted that the ability to enrich uranium is critical for its civilian nuclear power program. Over the weekend, US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who heads her country’s team at the P5+1 talks, told reporters in Jerusalem she prefers Iran not having an enrichment option, but it is likely Iran would have a limited capacity to do so.
Merkel said her country, which is also a party to the talks, would accepted a limited Iranian enrichment of uranium.
“We will take it step by step and see which compromises can be made and which are the ones that cannot be made,” Merkel said.
She noted the obvious, that Israel and Germany differ on this issue.
“We have set out on the path of lower enrichment, but enrichment does take place,” said Merkel, adding that the activity would be monitored to ensure that Iran doesn’t achieve a nuclear breakthrough.
“Israel has certain opinions.
The Arab countries have certain opinions,” she said.
But the choice is between an unsupervised Iran acquiring nuclear capacity and freezing the process with the ability to control further unclear development, she said.
“Guaranteeing that the process won’t continue, that is better than the present situation, but not near the ideal state of things,” she said.
Netanyahu said that Iran does not need the ability to enrich uranium in order to have a civilian nuclear energy program.
“It is not only my position, but that of many in the Middle East. Every single leader that I have spoken with in the Middle East agrees with that position,” he said.
“It does not happen often that Arabs and Israelis see things in the same way. When it happens, it is worth paying attention to,” he said.
The Iranian regime has not changed, he warned, in spite of the soothing words of its President Hassan Rouhani. It executes innocent people in the city squares, he said.
“They actually hang them from cranes,” Netanyahu said.
He added that Iran also supports Syrian President Bashar Assad. “Iran continues to perpetrate terrorism directly or through its proxy Hezbollah in Europe and around the world,” he said.
If Iran has the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon, it will do so.
“We cannot have a world in which fanatic regimes, irresponsible regimes, have atomic bombs. We cannot afford to have that replicated by a regime that I say is the equivalent of 50 North Koreas – having weapons that could threaten not only the security of Israel and the security of Germany, but the security of the entire world,” Netanyahu said.