Barak demands Iran give up uranium enrichment

Ahead of nuclear talks between Iran and West, defense minister warns of compromise for the sake of showing "progress."

Ehud Barak at Independence press conference 370 (photo credit: Ricardo Mallaco)
Ehud Barak at Independence press conference 370
(photo credit: Ricardo Mallaco)
Israel stands by its position that Iran completely stop enriching uranium and transfer its existing supply to a third country, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview with Army Radio Wednesday.
Ahead of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 world powers set to begin in Baghdad later in the day, Barak said, "Obama and the other Western leaders are not naive, but they seek progress, so they are willing to compromise."
"Dragging things out, in our eyes, is problematic, so conversations between the West and Iran must occur more frequently. North Korea also negotiated with the West but in the end tested nuclear weapons," he continued.
Barak played down Tuesday's announcement of a breakthrough between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that may allow the agency to monitor suspected military aspects of the nuclear program.
"The developments with Iran and the IAEA were expected," Barak said, echoing similar statements he made Tuesday evening that the breakthrough was a negotiating tactic.
According to Barak, Iran is positioning itself to tell powers at the Baghdad talks that they are working out procedural issues with the IAEA, while telling IAEA chief Yukiya Amano that they are working substantive issues out with the superpowers.
"It allows them to play somewhat of a game," Barak said.
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Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "Promises are one thing, actions and fulfillment of obligations are another."
Washington views the sanctions as crucial in getting Iran back to the table to discuss its nuclear program, which Tehran insists is purely for peaceful purposes. The crisis has vexed global financial markets and pushed up the price of oil.
"We will continue to pressure Tehran, continue to move forward with the sanctions that will be coming online as the year progresses," Carney told a news briefing.
Reuters contributed to this report.