Netanyahu warns against renewed talks with Iran

During visit to Canada, Netanyahu says he is not looking for US "red lines" on Tehran, nor will he spell out his own.

Netanyahu shakes hands with Candian counterpart R 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Netanyahu shakes hands with Candian counterpart R 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
OTTAWA – In advance of his much anticipated meeting Monday with US President Barack Obama on Iran, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spelled out the conditions Tehran should meet before the world once again negotiates with it over its nuclear program.
“Right now, Iran is feeling the pressure of economic sanctions, and it could try to evade that pressure by entering talks,” Netanyahu told a press conference after emerging from a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa on Friday.
Israel wanted to see a “peaceful solution” to the Iranian crisis, he said, but Tehran must be kept from again using negotiations to gain time and advance its nuclear program.
To avoid “falling into this trap,” Netanyahu said, the international community should place three conditions on Tehran before entering negotiations: Iran must dismantle its nuclear facility at Qom; stop all uranium enrichment inside the country; and remove all uranium already enriched beyond 3.5 percent out of the country.
“Anything short of that would enable Iran to continue its nuclear program by other means, which is exactly what they have done up to now,” he said.
The prime minister’s comments come as voices are being raised in Iran about a willingness to negotiate over its nuclear program, and the latest round of stiff sanctions is being felt inside the Islamic Republic.
Netanyahu dismissed speculation that during his meeting with Obama on Monday he will ask for the US to spell out its red lines regarding Iran, beyond which it would consider military action.
“I have no intention of establishing red lines for the US,” the prime minister said, adding that Israel wanted to maintain its own freedom of action “against threats to eliminate us from the map.”
Netanyahu’s comment was an acknowledgment that if Israel asked for a great deal of specificity in US plans, America would then ask the same of Israel, thereby significantly reducing the country’s maneuverability.
Harper, considered perhaps Israel’s best friend among the leaders of the world, skirted the issue when asked whether a preemptive Israeli strike on Iran would be acceptable to Canada.
Saying that Ottawa has been “very clear about the dangers of a nuclear armed Iran, its intentions and capabilities,” Harper added that in terms of “hypothetical situations” Canada’s position was clear: “We of course recognize Israel’s right to defend itself as a sovereign state, as a Jewish state. That said, we want to see a peaceful resolution of this issue, and we want to see every action taken to get a peaceful solution to the situation.”
Senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office described the reception Netanyahu received in Ottawa, including a welcoming ceremony with military honors at Parliament Hill, as “exceptionally warm.”
Netanyahu acknowledged the extremely strong ties between the two countries, telling Harper that he was carrying “very warm feelings” for Canada “not only from myself, and my delegation, but also from the people of Israel.
“Perhaps when we speak of the difficulties in our area and troubles we all face, it is particularly encouraging to come to Canada, and later on the United States, and know that I stand among friends who share the same values and the same goals. You are such a friend,” Netanyahu told Harper.
Harper met Netanyahu for a private meeting before the press conference, and then hosted him for an informal luncheon. On Saturday, Harper and his wife invited Netanyahu and his wife to lunch at his official residence.
Netanyahu, while still in Ottawa on Sunday morning, is expected to listen to Obama’s speech to AIPAC, before meeting Canadian Jewish leaders and then opposition head Bob Rae. He is scheduled to leave Ottawa for Washington late on Sunday afternoon. Netanyahu will address AIPAC on Monday.