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Barak Skeptical of Iran Agreement

Defense Minister Ehud Barak says the IAEA agreement with Iran is an attempt by Tehran to reduce pressure in upcoming talks with the P5+1
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 5/22/2012, 4:52 PM

Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Flash 90

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday expressed doubt over the value of an agreement reached between IAEA and Iran.

"It appears that the Iranians are trying to reach a 'technical agreement' which will create the impression of progress in the talks, in order to remove some of the pressure before the [P5+1] talks tomorrow in Baghdad; as well as to put off the intensification of sanctions," Barak said.

"They want to reduce some of the pressure ahead of tomorrow’s talks in Baghdad," he added.

Iran has previously said its goal in talks with the P5+1 is the removal of crippling Western sanctions that have deeply impacted the Islamic Republic's economy.

Over the weekend, the G8 affirmed there would be no easing of sanctions until Iran signed an agreement the world powers deemed suitable concerning its controversial nuclear program.

The P5+1 - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany - has indicated it expects Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, ship all uranium enriched to 20 percent outside of the country, and to shut down its nearly impenetrable Fordow enrichment facility.

It also expects Iran to allow the IAEA full access to all of its nuclear facilities in accordance with Tehran's obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Barak said,  "Israel believes that Iran should be set a clear bar; so that there is no 'window or crack' which the Iranians can [creep] through to advance their military nuclear program. Iran must stop enriching uranium, both to 20% and to 3.5%. In addition, all enriched uranium should be removed from Iran, under the tight protocol, called IAEA protocol 3.1.

"If Iran retains a token amount of several hundred kilograms of uranium enriched at 3.5 percent, it should be closely monitored. It must be certain, at any given moment, that Iran does not have sufficient uranium to pursue nuclear weapons," he said.

"Even if the Iranians are allowed to hold a symbolic amount – a few hundred kilograms of 3.5% enriched uranium – it needs to be under tight supervision. This will guarantee that at any given moment, the Iranians will not have enough uranium to enable the development of a military nuclear [program]," he explained. 

"It is forbidden to make concessions to Iran," Barak said, echoing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's tough line on Iran. "The requirements of the world powers must be clear and unequivocal."