Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned the six world powers, including the US, against caving to Iranian demands to pursue its nuclear program, just so that it can meet a November 24th deadline to conclude a deal with Tehran.
“The international community faces a clear choice,” Netanyahu said. “It can cave to Iranian demands in an agreement that would be dangerous for Israel and the world.”
“Or it can stand firm and insist that Iran dismantle its capacity to produce nuclear weapons,” he said.
Israel won’t support any agreement that allows Iran to be a threshold nuclear state, Netanyahu said.
He spoke as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with US Secretary of State John Kerry, European Union envoy Catherine Ashton and Oman's Foreign Minister Yusuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah in Oman to advance efforts to end a standoff over Tehran's nuclear program, according to Oman TV.
The discussions, aimed at curbing Iran’s sensitive uranium enrichment work in return for a gradual lifting of sanctions, are taking place just two weeks before a self-imposed Nov. 24 deadline for reaching a comprehensive deal.
Iranian official media also reported the start of the Muscat talks.
The West suspects Iran has covertly sought to develop the means to build nuclear weapons.
Israel has stated those concerns outright. “The reports that we continue to get from the International Atomic Energy Agency shows that Iran continues to lie and deceive the world with respect to its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said on Sunday.
Iran is ruled by a regime that calls for Israel’s destruction and denies human rights to its citizens.
“We must do everything to make sure that such a regime is not armed with nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said.
The Islamic Republic has said, however, that its program is entirely for peaceful purposes.
The thorniest unresolved issues are Iran's overall uranium enrichment capacity, the length of any long-term agreement and the pace at which international sanctions would be phased out, according to Western diplomats involved in the negotiations.
As Kerry arrived in Oman early on Sunday, a senior US official said the three-way talks would be "an important meeting," with the focus on making progress in order to meet the deadline.
US officials say major gaps still remain in the two sides' negotiating position.
Kerry said last week that the United States and its partners were not contemplating an extension of the Nov. 24 deadline, although he held out the possibility that negotiations could go beyond that date if major issues were agreed and there were only technical details to wrap up.
Speaking to Iranian state television on his arrival in Muscat on Saturday night, Zarif reiterated that sanctions imposed on Iran had brought 'no result' for the West.
"We need to reach a solution based on mutual respect and cooperation. If the West is interested in reaching such a solution, there is possibility to find a solution and to reach an understanding before November 24," he said.
A senior Iranian official close to the talks told Reuters that the participants would discuss "the gaps that are still huge, Iran's (uranium) enrichment capacity and time frame of lifting sanctions.”Reuters contributed to this report.