Daily Israel Report

Obama and Netanyahu Speak About Iran

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to Prime Minister Netanyahu, a day after he warns about Iran's uranium enrichment.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 10/29/2013, 2:16 AM

Obama and Netanyahu
Obama and Netanyahu
Flash 90

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about Iran on Monday, AFP reports, a day after Netanyahu warned that Tehran could convert uranium into weapons-grade material within weeks.

The White House said in a short statement that the leaders discussed Iran, Israeli-Palestinian Authority peace efforts and other key issues.

Netanyahu warned on Sunday that Iran is capable of converting low-grade uranium to material suitable for use in a weapons program with weeks -- even as Washington pursues diplomatic efforts to ease the nuclear showdown.

"The important part stems from technological improvements which allow Iran to enrich uranium from 3.5 percent to 90 percent in a number of weeks," his office quoted him as saying at a cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu is demanding increased pressure on Iran and has expressed skepticism about a diplomatic opening pioneered by new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani which he has called a "charm offensive."

Iran is to hold a new round of talks on the issue with six world powers in Geneva on November 7-8.

Israel is demanding four conditions before international sanctions on Iran are eased: a halt to all uranium enrichment; the removal of all enriched uranium from its territory; the closure of an underground nuclear facility in Qom; and a halt to construction of a plutonium reactor.

The Obama administration has said it is important to test the sincerity of Iran's promise to hold serious discussions on a nuclear program that the West says is geared towards producing weapons - a charge Tehran denies.

Iran denied Saturday that it had stopped enriching uranium to 20%, contradicting an earlier statement by a lawmaker.

While the U.S. has welcomed the moderate statements by Rouhani, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a meeting with Netanyahu last week that no deal with Iran was better than a bad deal.

"We do welcome the change of rhetoric, the change of tone, the diplomatic opening that the Iranians have offered," Kerry said as he met Netanyahu in Rome.

He added, however, "We are adamant that words are no substitute for actions".

"We will need to know that actions are being taken which make it crystal clear, undeniably clear, failsafe to the world that whatever program is pursued is indeed a peaceful program,” said Kerry, referring to the possibility that the sanctions on Iran will be eased.