PM to Ashton: Iran using talks to gain time
By TOVAH LAZAROFF AND REUTERS
Netanyahu meets with EU foreign policy chief along with FM, Barak, and newly-minted VP Mofaz ahead of talks.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Wednesday that Iran was using
diplomatic talks with the West to gain time to develop its nuclear
“Iran is using these talks to play for time,” Netanyahu told
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Ashton paid a
one-day trip to Jerusalem to hold a joint meeting with Netanyahu, Foreign
Minister Avigdor Liberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and newly appointed Vice
Premier Shaul Mofaz.
She spoke with them in advance of P5+1 talks in
Baghdad on May 23. Representatives of six countries – the United States, Great
Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany – will hold a second round of talks
with Iran there in an effort to get Tehran to halt its nuclear
Netanyahu told Ashton, “There is no evidence, whatsoever, that
the Iranian government has any intention to cease its aggressive pursuit
During the meeting, Israeli officials told Ashton
that a diplomatic process would be successful if Iran agreed to three
conditions: stopping the production of enriched uranium, removing all enriched
uranium from Iran and dismantling the underground uranium enrichment facility in
Her visit came as a US security institute said that commercial
satellite imagery showed new activity at an Iranian military site.
images raised concern that the Islamic Republic may be “washing” a building the
UN nuclear agency wants to inspect.
Iran dismissed the report, as it has
previously rejected allegations about the Parchin complex, where the UN’s
International Atomic Energy Agency suspects nuclear weapons-relevant research
may have taken place.
“They are joking with our nation,” Foreign Ministry
spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students’ News
Agency. It is not possible to “wash” nuclear activities, he added.
has yet to allow the IAEA to visit the facility southeast of Tehran, despite
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano reiterated last week that the
agency had recently noticed “activities” there. He gave no details but Western
diplomats suspect Iran may be cleaning the site before any
The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS),
a Washington-based think tank specializing in nuclear proliferation, said it had
acquired commercial satellite imagery from April 9 that backs up the IAEA’s
“The new activity seen in the satellite image occurred outside a
building suspected to contain an explosive chamber used to carry out nuclear
weapons related experiments,” it said on its website in a report on Tuesday
including the satellite image.
Iran’s mission to the IAEA has previously
dismissed allegations aired about Parchin as “childish” and
The images showed items lined up outside a building and
what appeared to be a stream of water, ISIS said.
“The items visible
outside the building could be associated with the removal of equipment from the
building or with cleansing it,” it said.
“The stream of water that
appears to emanate from the building raises concerns that Iran may have been
washing inside the building, or perhaps washing the items outside the building,”
Previous satellite images from recent months did not show any
similar activity at the building, indicating it is not a regular occurrence, it
The IAEA has said that gaining access to Parchin is a priority
when it holds a new round of talks with Iran in Vienna next week after two
previous meetings in Tehran failed to make any notable progress.
Western diplomats said they would be surprised if Tehran granted the request.
Iran has suggested that a broader agreement on cooperation with the IAEA must be
reached before it will consider letting inspectors into the site.
report late last year revealed a trove of intelligence pointing to research
activities in Iran of use in developing the means and technologies needed to
assemble nuclear weapons.
One finding in the report was information that
Iran in 2000 had built a large containment chamber at Parchin in which to
conduct high-explosives tests that the IAEA said are “strong indicators of
possible weapon development.”
A senior US official said on Tuesday that
Iran must cooperate with the IAEA’s investigation and provide access to relevant
sites, personnel and documents.
“Iran continues to delay and obstruct
that process,” Thomas Countryman, US assistant secretary for international
security and nonproliferation, told a meeting in Vienna.