Netanyahu: Israel Can't Live with Iran Upgrading Nuclear Plant
Iran's installation of new equipment at its Natanz nuclear plant will speed up enrichment efforts and complicate plans to prevent Tehran from building a weapons capability, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
Speaking at the start of the weekly meeting of the outgoing Israeli Cabinet, Netanyahu said the most important mission his new government will face is preventing a nuclear Iran.
"The most important mission facing a (new) national unity government is stopping the nuclear arming of Iran," he said.
"It is a mission which has become more complicated because Iran has equipped itself with new centrifuges which reduce the enrichment time," Netanyahu added. "We cannot live with this process."
Netanyahu’s remarks came after a report last week that Iran has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it planned to speed up its uranium enrichment program, using faster and more advanced centrifuges.
A document sent by IAEA officials and received by news agencies said that Tehran planned to upgrade enrichment equipment at its Natanz plant.
The letter from Iran mentions a centrifuge model IR2m, which would be able to enrich uranium as much as three times faster than equipment Iran already has.
Uranium enrichment is at the heart of the global standoff over Iran's nuclear program, which Israel and much of the West believes is a guise for developing a weapons capability. Iran has denied the allegations.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that the latest round of talks with world powers regarding Iran's nuclear program would be held in Kazakhstan later this month.
Iran and six world powers -- the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia -- held three rounds of talks last year aimed at resolving the standoff over Iran's nuclear activities, but all were unsuccessful.
The six, known as the P5+1, called on Iran to scale back its program but stopped short of meeting Tehran's demands to scale back sanctions. The last round ended in stalemate in June in Moscow.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Friday warned Iran that opportunities for diplomacy over its disputed nuclear program were not unlimited but offered direct talks between Washington and Tehran.
"President (Barack) Obama has made clear that containment is not an option. We will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon," Biden said.
"We think there is time and space for diplomacy -- accompanied with economic pressure. But this window will not be open for an unlimited time," he added.