Defence Minister Ehud Barak has urged the international community to keep up the pressure on Iran, while expressing his doubts that the current levels of sanctions are sufficient to force Iran to stop its nuclear weapons programme. Barak, speaking during an official visit to Colombia said, “I do not believe the efforts of the international community to stop Iran’s nuclear program will bear fruit. The time spent in this process is very precious.” Israel has expressed concern in recent days that there is a five week hiatus until the next round of talks.
Barak added that Israel had made no commitment to hold off military action against Iran whilst talks were still in progress. However, Barak also hinted at pragmatism, telling Israeli Army Radio this morning that if Iran were ultimately to hold a small amount of low-enriched uranium, under international supervision, it would not pose a threat to international security. Prime Minister Netanyahu, in common with the White House spokesmen, has stressed that Iran must fully meet it its international obligations and cease all uranium enrichment activity.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday rejected a proposal from Iranian negotiator Ali Akbar Salehi to lift sanctions ahead of the next round of talks, scheduled for Baghdad in late May. “I believe in action for action but I think in this case the burden of action falls on the Iranians to demonstrate their seriousness and we are going to keep the sanctions in place and the pressure on Iran as they consider… what they’ll bring to the table in Baghdad and we’ll respond accordingly,” she said.
Danish Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal also urged the international community keep up the pressure on Iran, describing Tehran as “world champions in making very long negotiations lead nowhere.” Denmark currently holds the presidency of the European Union.