'Growing Concern' in Israel over Brewing Iran Deal
Just 24 days ahead of a deadline for an agreement between western powers and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program, Jerusalem is worried that the deal will leave Iran with thousands of nuclear centrifuges.
“There is growing concern in Jerusalem” over the deal that is being hatched, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported.
Israel is preparing an intensive diplomatic push in the coming days in an effort to head off what it views as a dangerous emerging agreement the Iranian nuclear program. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called home his ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, for urgent consultations on the matter, and spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Israel will also hold a series of consultations with representatives of the six powers that are negotiating with Iran ahead of their meeting next Wednesday in Vienna.
An Israeli delegation headed by Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz and National Security Advisor Yosef Cohen heads to Washington early next week.
Steinitz will then travel to London and Paris for meetings with the British and French foreign ministers, according to Israeli media reports.
According to i24 News, senior Israeli officials said that Steinitz and others will tell the Europeans that any agreement with Iran must be based on prevention, meaning the dismantling its nuclear program, rather than solely on enhanced inspections aimed at detecting cheating.
According to the daily Haaretz, Israel will also insist that if Iran retains any uranium enrichment capacity, it must be merely symbolic, comprising no more than a few hundred centrifuges.
Netanyahu reportedly told Putin said that Israel does not believe inspections alone can prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon.
Iran is also moving to finalize plans with Russia to build at least two more nuclear power plants on the Islamic Republic's southern Gulf shores, AFP reported on Monday, citing Iranian media reports.
According to Haaretz, Israel fears that the United States and other world powers are softening their stance on how many centrifuges Iran would be allowed to retain under a permanent deal on its nuclear program.
A senior official said that according to Israel’s information, the six powers’ new stance is that Iran can retain 2,000 to 4,000 centrifuges. “In that case, Iran would remain a nuclear threshold state,” he said. “It would retain an enrichment capability that would enable it, within a short time, to break out to a nuclear bomb the moment it decided to do so.”
During their talks at the White House on Wednesday, President Barack Obama told Peres — who steps down as president next month — that the US would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.