|Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem|
Barak reveals conditions for Iran-West talks
By YAAKOV KATZ
Defense minister says strike on Tehran's nuclear facilities not within weeks but can also not wait years.
Israel is demanding that its allies set Iran’s complete surrender of its
stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent as one of the goals of the nuclear
talks scheduled for mid-April.
Citing 2012 as the “year to stop Iran,”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that he has held discussions with
American and European officials in recent weeks with the goal of convincing them
to set clear goals for the planned talks with Iran.
The talks are
scheduled to begin on April 13 between Iran and representatives of the five
permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, known as
P5+1. Disagreements still exist regarding the venue although Istanbul currently
appears to be acceptable to all sides.
Barak revealed what Israel’s goals
are for the talks: 1) transfer of all uranium enriched to 20 percent –
approximately 120 kg. – out of Iran to a third party country; 2) the transfer of
the majority of the 5 tons of uranium enriched to 3.5% out of Iran, leaving just
enough needed for energy purposes; 3) the closure of the Fordow enrichment
facility, buried under a mountain near the city of Qom; 4) the transfer of fuel
rods from a third party country to Iran for the purpose of activating the Tehran
As reported Wednesday in The Jerusalem Post,
assessments in the defense establishment are that a confrontation with Iran may
be postponed until sometime in 2013. This is the result of the sanctions that
have been imposed on Iran and are believed to be effective.
Wednesday that there was still time before a strike would be
“It is not needed within weeks but it is also not something
that can wait a number of years,” he said in rare comments to military
reporters. “The Iranians are fortifying their facilities and moving deeper
underground with every month that passes.”
As a result, Barak said, it
was unlikely that Iran would agree to suspend all of its enrichment activities
and forfeit its uranium due to the current sanctions, no matter how effective
“I do however look forward to being surprised if the talks with
Iran succeed,” he said.
Israel and the US share almost all of their
intelligence assessments regarding Iran and, for example, share the opinion that
Iran has yet to make the decision to begin enriching uranium to higher
military-grade levels and begin building a bomb.
Barak admitted, however,
that there were differences between Israel and the US over his claim that Iran
was moving into an “immunity zone” and that if Israel waits too long its
military option might not be viable past the end of the year.
part of the difference between us and the Americans,” the defense minister said.