Israel works to stop 'dangerous' deal to limit Iran's nuclear programme

PM Benjamin Netanyahu says mooted agreement would still enable Tehran to enrich uranium

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 November, 2013, 5:53am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 November, 2013, 2:31pm


Israel was pulling out all the stops yesterday to prevent what it considers a "bad" deal to limit Iran's nuclear programme, before the talks resume on November 20.

The diplomatic offensive was aimed not only at the world powers engaged in negotiations with Tehran, after three days of talks ended early yesterday without a deal, but also extended to the US Congress, with which Israel retains close ties.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he spoke to the US, Russian, French, German and British leaders - five of the six world powers negotiating with Iran - and "told them that according to the information reaching Israel, the looming agreement is bad and dangerous".

According to Netanyahu, the deal would remove sanctions on Iran while still enabling the Islamic republic to enrich uranium and advance works on a plutonium reactor.

"I asked them what was the rush? I suggested they wait, and seriously consider things," he said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting.

"I hope they reach a good agreement, and we will do all we can to convince world powers to avoid a bad deal."

Netanyahu's remarks came after Iran and world powers failed to reach a deal on Tehran's nuclear programme despite three days of talks, dashing hopes of an immediate agreement in the decade-old stand-off. However, diplomats said progress had been made in the negotiations and that talks would resume in Geneva on November 20.

Deputy Foreign Minister Li Baodong , who joined the talks on Saturday, said China would continue to make efforts to help reach a negotiated solution to the Iran nuclear issue at an early date.

"Given the complexity of the issue, the international community cannot finalise a deal with one round of talks," he said. "But all participants have shown willingness to solve the problem, and they would like to maintain the sound momentum."

Among the obstacles noted in the talks were France's worries over Iran's enrichment levels and a planned heavy-water reactor that produces plutonium byproducts.

Iran's president, Hassan Rowhani, yesterday insisted the nation cannot be pushed to give up uranium enrichment, saying uranium enrichment was a "red line" that cannot be crossed. "Nuclear rights in the international framework, including uranium enrichment, on its soil" are not negotiable, Rowhani said.

Delegates of the six world powers started the new round of talks with Iran on Thursday in Geneva to seek a "first step" deal.

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Xinhua