Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz plans to ask the US not to ease the
financial pressure on Iran when he visits Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday as
part of a pre-arranged strategic dialogue that occurs between the two countries
every six months.
“The only reason the Iranians are ready to talk and to
agree to some compromises is because of the enormous [economic] pressure against
them,” Steinitz told The Jerusalem Post before leaving Israel on Saturday
Israel is worried that the six world powers that met with Iran in
Geneva last week to find a diplomatic solution to halt Tehran’s nuclear weapons
program might agree to repeal some of the economic sanctions leveled against
Iran before the program is dismantled.
The New York Times speculated on
Friday that the US is considering freeing frozen Iranian overseas financial
assets as a gesture to Iran, should it curb some aspects of the military nuclear
Such a move is not considered to be an easing of sanctions and
it could be reversed if need be. Sanctions, once lifted, would be more difficult
to put back in place.
“Any easing of the pressure will reduce the chances
of success [for a diplomatic solution],” Steinitz said.
“The greater the
economic pressure, the greater the chances for success.”
“Our position is
that there is no reason to give Iran any permission not to fully fulfill and to
fully comply with already existing UN Security Council resolutions,” Steinitz
These resolutions have stipulated that Iran must stop the
enrichment of uranium and dismantle the apparatus that gives it the capacity to
enrich that uranium. According to the UN Security Council, Iran also has to stop
building a heavy water reactor in Arak, Steinitz said. He added that economic
concessions should be offered to Iran only once these requirements have been
Israel and the US have a good collaborative working relationship
with regard to Iran, even if there are some minor differences, the intelligence
minister said. The same is true with France, Germany and Great
“It is a very close and friendly collaboration,” he
On Friday, he said, the British delegation that had participated in
the Geneva talks flew to Israel to update officials here.
that he is scheduled to meet in Washington with members of the US team who
attended the Geneva talks, including its leader and chief negotiator with regard
to Iran, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
Before arriving in the
US, Steinitz will visit Canada on Sunday and Monday, where he will meet that
country’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and its Defense Minister Rob
Nicholson. Both in Canada and in the US he will discuss other regional issues
such as Syria and Turkey.
On Friday, US State Department spokeswoman Jen
Psaki denied reports that the US would ease economic pressure against Iran
before tangible results were achieved.
While the Geneva talks with Iran
were more “serious and substantive” than in the past, no agreement was made in
Geneva with regard to sanctions relief, Psaki said.
More to the point,
she noted, it is not certain that the talks will be successful.
not taking steps to relieve sanctions. Iran will have to agree to meaningful,
transparent, and verifiable actions before we can seriously consider taking
steps to ease sanctions.
So discussions of specific types of relief at
this point is premature and speculative,” she said, adding that the issue of
unfreezing Iranian was similarly premature.
“There are many more
discussions, meetings at the technical level, which will be the next step, which
need to happen before a determination is made,” she said. “Of course, there will
be a range of discussions in the coming weeks within the administration on the
national security team and with Congress about how to work together and where we
should go from here.”
In statements made after the conclusions of last
week’s Geneva talks, Iran has insisted that it has a right to continue to enrich
uranium. It has explained that this uranium can also be used for its nuclear
power program. Israel has said that such a nuclear power program is not
dependent on enriched uranium.
A senior Western diplomat cautioned on
Thursday that any breakthrough in diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program was not
“close,” seeking to dampen expectations that the next round of talks on November
7-8 could lead to a deal.
Despite the improved atmosphere, diplomats said
major differences remained between western governments, which suspect Iran’s
nuclear work has covert military goals, and Tehran, which denies that and
demands the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
In a series of
meetings with Iran since last year, envoys from six world powers – the United
States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany – have demanded that it
abandon enrichment of uranium to 20 percent fissile purity, an important step on
the way to producing weapons fuel, in return for modest sanctions
Tehran has spurned their offer and demanded that major
restrictions on trade in oil and on its banking sector are eliminated
Under Rouhani, Iran appears keen to push for a deal. Sanctions
have drastically reduced the OPEC producer’s oil export revenues and helped cut
the value of its rial currency.
But Tehran remains in contravention of UN
Security Council demands that it halt uranium enrichment and other sensitive
Few details have emerged from the talks in Geneva
this week, but in a sign of a dramatic shift from confrontation to dialogue, the
two sides issued a joint statement to say that Tehran’s proposals presented at
the meeting were an “important contribution.”
Nuclear experts and
sanctions specialists from Iran and the six nations, led in diplomacy with Iran
by the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, will meet in the
coming weeks to prepare the next round of negotiations in Geneva.
contributed to this report.