PM: Sanctions haven't stopped Iran’s nuclear quest

Netanyahu tells UK's Hague that new IAEA report "shows clearly that Iran is continuing to expand its nuclear enrichment program."

May 23, 2013 23:01
3 minute read.
Netanyahu and Hague meet in Jerusalem, May 23, 2013

Netanyahu and Hague 370. (photo credit: GPO / Moshe Milner)

Economic and diplomatic pressure has failed to stop Iran’s nuclear program, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told British Foreign Minister William Hague before meeting with him in Jerusalem on Thursday.

“The just released report of the International Atomic Energy Agency shows clearly that Iran is continuing to expand its nuclear enrichment program,” Netanyahu said.

“In parallel, it’s [Iran] working on a heavy-water reactor to build a plutonium-based bomb,” he said.

“This is the biggest challenge facing us. I think it’s the biggest challenge of our time,” Netanyahu said.

The IAEA report said 509 IR-2m centrifuges and empty centrifuge casings had been installed since February, bringing the total to nearly 700, none of which were yet operational.

In addition, “preparatory installation work” has been completed for many more, it said.

Centrifuges spin at supersonic speed to increase the fissile isotope in uranium. Experts said it was unclear when Tehran’s new machines could start operating and how efficiently they would work.

Netanyahu spoke with Hague and visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday about Iran and Syria.

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He thanked Kerry for the US Senate resolution to stand with Israel against Iran and commended him for the House Foreign Affairs Committee decision to upgrade Iranian sanctions.

The two men also discussed Syria with Kerry explaining that the PM had just met in Amman with 10 ministers, including Hague, and that there had been an agreement to find a negotiated solution to Syria.

“The incredible destabilization of Syria, is spilling over into Lebanon, into Jordan, and has an impact, obviously, on Israel. So we have an obligation to try to see if we can implement Geneva 1,” Kerry said.

He added that the US was committed to addressing the issue of the S-300 missiles that Russia and other countries were sending into Syria for President Bashar Assad.

Hague told Channel 2 that Great Britain had spoken with Russia against the shipment to Assad forces of the S-300 missile.

“We do not support any of the assistance to the Assad regime, from anywhere,” Hague said.

His country, he told Channel 2, was stepping up its support of “moderate democratically committed opposing groups” because Assad’s regime has to cede to a transitional government.

Great Britain, he said, along with the United States, was working on a solution to Syria because the United Nations Security Council had failed.

“The UN National Security Council has failed in its duty, the world has failed in its duty,” Hague told Channel 2.

“Every resolution that we have put to try to bring an end to this [Syria’s civil war] has been vetoed by Russia and China and so the UN Security Council is not acting as it is meant to act and that leaves us pursuing many other avenues,” said Hague whose country is a Security Council member.

President Shimon Peres raised the issue of Syria and Iran with Nicolas Sarkozy, former French president, when the two men met in Jerusalem. Sarkozy is in Israel to receive an honorary degree from Netanya’s Academic College.

Sarkozy also met with Netanyahu.

Even though Sarkozy had announced after his defeat at the polls that he was leaving politics, his popularity has soared in recent months and according to the French media there are many French citizens calling for his return.

He may yet run against present incumbent Francois Hollande in the 2017 elections.

When Peres entered the reception hall in which Sarkozy was waiting for him on Thursday, the two literally fell into each other’s arms in a warm embrace before posing for the mandatory handshake photo.

Peres was obviously delighted to see him and said so. “Friends are friends,” he declared, “and you are one of the greatest demonstrations of that truism.”

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