Defense Minister Ehud Barak 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Iran is fooling the West in its apparent readiness to reach a deal on its nuclear program, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned on Tuesday.
"The Iranians appear to be trying to reach a technical deal that will create an appearance as if there is progress in the talks to remove some of the pressure ahead of the talks in Baghdad and to postpone an escalation in sanctions," Barak said during a meeting at the Defense Ministry.
The defense minister's comments came in response to an earlier announcement by Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Amano said that he expected to sign a deal with Iran soon to boost its cooperation with an investigation into Tehran's disputed atomic activity, although differences remained.
Barak said that Israel's demands remained a complete stop to enrichment activities in Iran, including enrichment that is taking place to 20 percent and 3.5 percent. Israel, he said, also demands that all of the enriched material, except for a symbolic amount, be removed from Iran, which would also have to agree to an increase in supervision of its nuclear program by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"Even if Iran is allowed to retain several hundred kilograms of low enriched uranium, it will need to be done under close supervision that will ensure that they will not have enough to continue towards a nuclear-military capability," he said.
Several other Israeli officials also reacted to Amano's comments of an impending deal with Iran over its nuclear program with apprehension and suspicion.
"Iran has proven over the years its lack of credibility, its dishonesty - telling the truth is not its strong side - and, therefore, we have to be suspicious of them all the time, and examine the agreement that is being formulated," Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said on Israel Radio.
His comments were echoed by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who said: "At this point, in light of past experience, we are suspicious."
Asked whether military action against Iran, long hinted by Israel, was still a possibility with apparent progress being made on the diplomatic track, Vilnai said: "One shouldn't get confused for even a moment - everything is on the table."
Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli defense official, predicted that Iran would take a conciliatory tack at the Baghdad talks, while not abandoning its goal of becoming a nuclear power.
"They will be willing to show what appears to be flexibility as long as it doesn't affect their strategic direction, meaning that they will be able to develop nuclear weapons if that decision is made," Gilad told Army Radio.
"Today they have enough uranium, raw material, for the bomb, they have the missiles that can carry them and they have the knowledge to assemble a warhead on a missile," he said. "They have not yet decided to do this because they are worried about the response."