New round of Iran nuclear talks starts in Kazakhstan

J'lem believes negotiations have only succeeded in buying the Iranians more time on march toward nuclear weapons.

April 5, 2013 08:01
3 minute read.
A bank of centrifuges at nuclear facility in Iran

Ayatollahs centrifuge 390. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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North Korea’s warning that its military has been cleared to launch a nuclear attack against the US should be on everyone’s mind as the Western powers sit down again with Iran on Friday in Kazakhstan, Israeli leaders stressed on Thursday.

“Today it is more clear than ever before that we simply cannot allow a situation in which a regime that calls for our annihilation obtains the weapons of annihilation,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – alluding to the North Korean threats – said before a meeting with a five-member US Senate delegation headed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York). “This must be prevented at all costs.”

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Earlier in the day, International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz told visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide that North Korea’s threats should be a flashing red light regarding Iran.

“The extreme regime in North Korea obtained nuclear weapons a short time ago and already a significant nuclear threat is hovering over the citizens of South Korea, Japan and even the western United States,” he said. “This demonstrates to all of us what are the likely ramifications for Israel, the Middle East and Europe of nuclear weapons in the hands of the extreme regime in Iran.”

Israeli officials have low expectations of any progress coming out of the talks, the second round in the Kazakhstan commercial center of Almaty in the past 40 days.

So far the talks by the P5+1 – the US, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany – with Tehran have only succeeded in buying the Iranians more time, one government official said. “The Iranians have a deliberate strategy of trying to run out the clock.”

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The official said it was time for the international community to ratchet up the pressure on Iran, so its leaders would understand that the world was committed to keeping them from continuing to enrich uranium and would act to prevent the enriching of uranium if the Iranians did not stop of their own accord.

Israel’s expectations of what the Iranians need to do are higher than that of the P5+1. While Israel is demanding that the Iranians stop all uranium enrichment and ship out all the enriched uranium in the country, the P5+1 proposal presented to the Iranians calls for them to stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent, the level needed to fuel nuclear reactors.

According to The Christian Science Monitor, the proposal on the table calls on Iran to convert its existing 20% enriched uranium into fuel for a research reactor, and export or dilute the rest.

Also, while Israel is calling for the dismantling of the Fordow enrichment facility near Qom, the Monitor reported that the P5+1 wants only to curtail its functioning and turn it into a “reduced readiness status without disarmament.”

The proposal also calls on Iran to accept “enhanced” monitoring of its nuclear facilities, including the placement of cameras at Fordow.

In exchange for meeting their demands, the P5+1 is offering to roll back some of the crippling economic sanctions, such as those on gold and precious metals, and on oil exports.

A senior US administration official said that the results of the Almaty talks would depend “on what the Iranians come back with in terms of response on the substance of our proposal.”

The proposal was made on February 26 at the previous round of two-day talks in Almaty, followed by 12 hours of “technical talks” a couple of weeks later in Istanbul to flesh out the proposals.

The officials said there “has been a very positive line out of Tehran on the talks so far,” and that he hoped this “positive talk will now be matched with some concrete responses and actions on the Iranian side.”

While the US official sounded cautiously optimistic, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili sounded a defiant note ahead of the talks, saying the world had to recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium for there to be any breakthrough.

“We think our talks tomorrow can go forward with one word. That is the acceptance of the rights of Iran, particularly the right to enrichment,” he said at a university in Almaty.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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