Steinitz: Iran Talks Must Not Be Another Munich
Israel is keeping up the pressure on the West to demonstrate that it has learned the lessons of history, as it engages Iran at the P5+1 talks currently underway in Geneva.
In remarks broadcast on Wednesday by Army Radio, Minister for Strategic Affairs MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) compared the talks between world powers and Iran with the 1938 Munich agreement, under which Britain and France agreed to the annexation of large swathes of then Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany in a failed bid to avert war.
Iran says that its uranium enrichment program is meant for peaceful means only; however, Israel and the West have not been convinced. Years of threats to annihilate Israel, combined with Iran's determination to pursue nuclear development in secret, have led to deep mistrust of the country's plans.
Peaceful overtures made by Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani have led to direct talks with the West, although Israel has yet to be convinced that Iran has dropped its ambitions to acquire a nuclear weapon. As recently as Monday, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, continued to fuel doubts as he appealed to Muslims around the world to unite against Israel.
"We view the nuclear talks in Geneva with hope and with concern. We see the worrying signs and we don't want Geneva 2013 to turn into Munich 1938," Steinitz said.
Israel has said that anything short of a cessation of uranium enrichment would not safeguard the Middle East and the world from the reality of an Iran with a nuclear weapon. Following a meeting late on Monday, the security cabinet issued a unanimous statement warning the international community against any "partial agreement that would fail to bring about the full dismantling of the Iranian military nuclear program... (which) could lead to the collapse of the sanctions regime."
In Geneva, Zarif Araqchi from the Iranian negotiation team said Iran had made an hour-long presentation to the delegates representing the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, and that it had been received well. The country also held its first one-on-one talks in decades with the US after Tuesday's presentation.