Netanyahu calls for an end to all Iranian enrichment

Prime minister says Rohani has doctrine of "talk and enrich," shortly after Lavrov says Tehran is willing to stop enrichment to 20%.

By
June 18, 2013 22:32
2 minute read.
Iranian workers stand in front of Bushehr.

bushehr_311 reuters. (photo credit: Stringer Iran / Reuters)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on Iran Tuesday to stop the enrichment of nuclear materials at all levels, shortly after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Iran has expressed readiness to stop uranium enrichment to 20 percent in exchange for easing international sanctions.

Lavrov’s comments to the Kuwait News Agency came a day after Iranian Presidentelect Hassan Rohani said Iran would not suspend its uranium enrichment, though he did say that Iran’s nuclear program would be more “transparent.”

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“The international community should react to Iran’s constructive steps by similar measures [such as the] gradual halt of sanctions and scrapping them, including the curbs of unilateral basis or those approved by the Security Council,” Lavrov said.

He urged both Iran and the six world powers (five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) to show flexibility in nuclear talks in order to move forward.

But Netanyahu cautioned the world for the third time in three days not to be deluded by Rohani. “Wishful thinking is not a substitute for policy,” he said before meeting visiting Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. “The new Iranian president has been very clear. He is the author of a doctrine. You could call it ‘talk and enrich,’ that is ‘talk and continue to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.’” Netanyahu said Rohani spelled out this doctrine in a book, saying that by calming the international community Iran would be able to steadily move forward with its nuclear weapons program.

“We cannot allow Iran to play this game,” he said. “We cannot let Iran ride out the clock through endless talks. Iran must comply with UN Security Council resolutions.”

Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s position, one that he first enumerated last year during a meeting in Ottawa with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, regarding what the world must demand of the Iranians: A total cessation of all enrichment of nuclear materials at all levels, the removal from Iran of all enriched nuclear material and the closure of Iran’s illicit nuclear facilities.

Until Iran meets these demands, Netanyahu said amid an international climate leaning toward giving the soft-spoken Rohani, widely labeled a “moderate,” the benefit of the doubt, “the pressure must be stepped up. The Iranian nuclear weapons program must be stopped, period.”

Netanyahu praised Harper for Canada’s decision last month to clamp a total trade ban on Iran, saying that type of pressure needed to be continued.

Baird said that Canada has the “toughest sanction in the world” against Iran and has no intention to change them “until the Iranian regime changes course.”

Baird said the only way the Iranians can show that they are serious is by taking concrete action. “Talk is insufficient,” he declared.

While the elections may be an opportunity for Iran to chart a different path, he said that until there was tangible progress, and not only rhetoric, it was important for “freedom-loving people everywhere” to continue honoring the sanctions.

On Sunday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran was making “steady progress” in expending its nuclear program despite the sanctions.

“There is a steady increase of capacity and production” in Iran’s nuclear program, Yukiya Amano said.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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