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Intelligence Minister to Meet with Britain's Iran Negotiator

Yuval Steinitz to meet with Britain's negotiatior on Iranian nuclear deal as Israel presses ahead to convey its concerns over final deal.
By Arutz Sheva Staff and AFP
First Publish: 11/27/2013, 1:33 PM

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz
Flash 90

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz met Wednesday with Britain's negotiator at the Iranian nuclear talks as part of efforts to influence the shape of a final deal, his office said.  

Israel has decried as a "historic mistake" the breakthrough deal reached by world powers and Iran in Geneva on Sunday - under which Tehran agreed to pause parts of its nuclear programme in return for an easing of sanctions.  

During the meeting in Jerusalem, Britain's chief negotiator Simon Gass and the Israeli officials led by Steinitz "hashed out the existent differences and discussed in great detail" the agreement and the meaning of its clauses, a statement read.

"An initial discussion on the character of the final agreement also commenced during the meeting," it said.  

"Despite the differences of opinion, the talks took place in an open and friendly atmosphere."  

Only days after the deal was struck Iranian officials threw doubt on the official American account of the agreement.

On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham dismissed the fact sheet detailing the deal, found on the White House's official website, as "a one-sided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action," according to the Iranian semi-official Fars News Agency.

"This fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true," Afkham added.

Iranian officials said the White House's fact sheet "modifies" key details of the actual deal, particularly regarding uranium enrichment.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Steinitz said he had also met on Tuesday with France's chief negotiator Jacques Audibert in Jerusalem to discuss the interim deal and the final agreement.  

She said the British and French officials arrived in Israel after Steinitz had requested an update on the talks from London and Paris.    

Britain and France, along with the United States, Russia, China and Germany, make up the P5+1 group of world powers which negotiated the deal, which they have said is a key step towards reducing the threat of military escalation in the Middle East.    

Under the agreement, which is in place for six months while a more long-lasting solution is negotiated, Tehran is committed to  limiting uranium enrichment to low levels used only for civilian energy purposes.  

In return, it will obtain some $7 billion in sanctions relief in the form of access to frozen funds and to its petrochemical, gold and precious metals and auto sectors. 

Tehran has a long history of belligerent statements towards the Jewish state, and opposes its very existence, as well as funding an array of Islamist terrorist groups committed to Israel's destruction, including Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

As such Israel - the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear power - has repeatedly warned that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat.

But Israel and other neighboring states - many of whom are also hostile to the Jewish state - have voiced their concerns about the wider regional implications of an Iranian nuclear weapon, given the role Tehran has played in instability in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and its support for international terrorism. 

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday he would send his national security adviser to Washington for talks on Iran after warning the deal would give Tehran a free hand to achieve a breakout nuclear capability.