Israel dismisses Iran’s nuclear concessions as ‘cosmetic’

Netanyahu to take argument against Tehran to European media following WSJ reports on Iran offers for nuclear talks.

Netanyahu Iran bomb red line 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
Netanyahu Iran bomb red line 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will flood the European media in coming days with interviews trying to sway public opinion against easing sanctions on Iran in return for what Jerusalem views as cosmetic concessions.
Netanyahu’s media blitz comes as The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Iran will come to talks in Geneva next week with the world powers – the US, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain – willing to stop enriching uranium to 20-percent purity, which is close to weapons-grade capability.
According to the report, the Islamic Republic – in exchange for scaling back the sanctions – will also be willing to open up its nuclear facilities to more invasive international inspections, and is considering closing the underground uranium enrichment facility near Qom.
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, who met on Wednesday with the head of the French team to the negotiations with Iran, called what Iran was reportedly willing to bring to the table “laughable.”
“Closing the facility in Qom means that Iran will be able to produce in its first year of nuclearization five bombs instead of six,” he said. “Giving up on enriching to 20% is less significant at a time when Iran already has 20,000 centrifuges.”
Steinitz said that Israel was amenable to a “true and serious diplomatic solution” whereby Iran’s nuclear capabilities would be similar to those of Canada or Mexico – it would be able to generate electricity from a reactor, but would need to buy the nuclear fuel to work the reactors from another country.
Netanyahu stressed at the UN last week and in numerous interviews afterward that Iran must do four things: stop all enrichment, remove from its control all its stockpiles of enriched uranium, close down the facility at Qom, and stop all work on the heavy water reactor at Arak aimed at producing a plutonium path toward a bomb.
Netanyahu, quoting from what Iranian President Hassan Rouhani himself said in 2005, explained that a country that can enrich uranium to 3.5% will also have the capability to enrich to weapons grade 90%, and that having the fuel cycle capability “virtually means” that a country possesses the capability to produce nuclear weapons.
For that reason, he said, Iran must not be left with any capacity to enrich uranium at any level.
An Israeli government official said that the Wall Street Journal report confirmed what Netanyahu said last week in New York: that the Iranians were angling for a deal that would relieve sanctions but keep the fundamentals of their program in place.
“This is the Iranian strategy that we have warned about all along,” he said. “Cosmetic concessions that leave the heart of their program in place and gives them breakout capacity to build a nuclear weapon at a time of their choosing.”
The official described “break-out capacity” as the Iranian’s ability – when they desire – to produce the necessary amount of fissile material for a bomb. With the number and advanced nature of the centrifuges they have in place, the official said that if they were not barred from all enrichment, “they can go from low enrichment to high [weapons-grade] enrichment in a matter of weeks.”
The official said that Netanyahu’s message to the Europeans in the five days that remain before the start of the talks will be that “no deal is better then a bad deal,” and that the deal that the Iranians will apparently propose is a bad one."