Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned French and British leaders over the
weekend not to lift sanctions against Iran precisely when they appear to be
In advance of the six party diplomatic talks scheduled to be
held in Geneva on Tuesday and Wednesday, Netanyahu spoke by telephone with
French President François Hollande and British Prime Minister David
France and Great Britain will participate in the P5+1 talks,
along with the US, China, Russia and Germany and Iran.
Netanyahu made the
calls as part of his diplomatic and media blitz to sway the international
community not to be fooled by conciliatory tones out of Iran. He supports
diplomatic initiatives to avert a nuclear Iran, but fears the international
community will accept a compromise on this issue that will allow Tehran to avoid
dismantling its nuclear weapons facilities and removing enriched uranium from
In an interview with The New York Times published on Friday,
Netanyahu pointed to photographs in his office of two men who had also been on
solitary international missions: British prime minister Winston Churchill – who
warned of the dangers of Nazi Germany in the 1930s – and the father of modern
Zionism, Theodor Herzl.
“They were alone a lot more than I am,” Netanyahu
Of the role he has taken on in warning the world against a nuclear
Iran, he told the Times, “We’re here for a purpose – I’m here for a
Which is to defend the future of the Jewish people, which means
to defend the Jewish state. Defending it from a nuclear Iran.
going to let that happen,” he said. “It’s not going to happen.”
Israeli diplomatic sources said on Saturday night that the prime minister told
Hollande and Cameron sanctions were close to achieving the desired result, of
forcing Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
should continue and be amplified until this happens, Netanyahu said.
international community should not be satisfied until Iran has stopped enriching
uranium, has dismantled the machinery to do so and has removed all enriched
uranium from the country, he said.
According to the diplomatic sources,
Netanyahu told the French and British leaders not to forget that Tehran had
ignored the UN Security Council on the nuclear issue, was behind terrorist
attacks on five continents and had participated in the massacres taking place in
Hollande promised Netanyahu that his country would take a tough
stance with regard to Iran, and would wait to see if Tehran’s words were
reflected by actions, according to AFP. The French president is expected to
visit Israel next month.
US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie
Harf told reporters in Washington on Friday that when it came to Iran’s nuclear
program, “words aren’t enough; we need to see action.”
She said the US
agrees with Israel that “sanctions are the reason the Iranians may be using more
conciliatory tones today. But what we’re all focused on is seeing what they come
Stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is the
highest national priority for both Israel and the US, as well as for the region
as a whole, Harf said.
“That’s why the president’s been clear that we
will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, that all options remain on the
table,” she said.
But it was important to try to resolve the issue
through diplomacy, she said, “in large part because the alternative has a lot of
incredibly grave consequences that would go along with it.”
likely to address the issue when he speaks to the Knesset plenum on
Since 2006, the Islamic Republic has crossed several thresholds
deemed unacceptable by the West and Israel. Iran built a second uranium
enrichment plant at Fordow, deep underground near the Shi’ite holy city of Qom,
started producing uranium to a level closer to that suitable for bombs, and
installed advanced centrifuges able to enrich much faster.
the nuclear program’s growth and increasing complexity, the International Atomic
Energy Agency’s reports have more than doubled in length, to 14 pages this year
from just five in 2006.
Despite a more moderate tone from Iran under
President Hassan Rouhani, Vienna-based diplomats say they see no clear
indication that Iran is putting the brakes on its nuclear drive.
May and August this year, it installed an additional 1,861 old-generation
centrifuges at its main enrichment site near the town of Natanz, bringing the
total to 15,416, although only about 60 percent of them seemed to be in
At the same time, Iran completed putting in place 1,008
advanced so-called IR-2m centrifuges at Natanz and was planning to test them,
the IAEA said in a report issued in late August.
At Fordow, it continued
to produce medium-enriched uranium – refined to 20 percent concentration of the
fissile isotope – with 700 IR-1 centrifuges out of a total of 2,710
In addition, it has 328 IR-1 machines producing the same
medium-enriched material in a research and development facility in the Natanz
complex, as well as nearly 400 centrifuges of various models it is testing,
including more advanced ones.
Iran’s total number of centrifuges –
machines that spin at supersonic speed to separate the fissile U-235 isotope –
comes to over 19,800. The fact that many of them remain idle suggests that it
could sharply ramp up production at short notice.
“Iran could quickly
begin feeding natural uranium into these cascades [linked networks of
centrifuges] and more than double its enrichment capacity,” said David Albright
of the Institute for Science and International Security think tank.
says it makes the centrifuges itself, but nuclear experts believe it likely
needs to procure components and materials for the equipment abroad, evading
sanctions aimed at stopping the trade.
Reuters contributed to this