Iran is using the talks with world powers about its nuclear programme to buy time and secretly continue enriching uranium, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton yesterday in Israel. “The Iranians are using these talks to play for time,” an Israeli government official said following the meeting. “So far there is no evidence that the Iranian regime has any intention to cease its aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons,” the official added.
In the meeting, which was also attended by Defence Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and incoming Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, Israel reiterated its concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear programme, according to government officials.
“What will be seen as progress is Iranian agreements and a clear timeline for implementations on three critical issues: the total cessation of all enrichment activities; the removal from Iran of all enriched material; and the dismantling of the [nuclear] facility near Qom,” a government official told The Times of Israel.
In April, the P5+1, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, met with Iranian officials in Istanbul to discuss the country’s nuclear programme. Following the meeting the parties spoke of a constructive dialogue, but the talks did not yield concrete achievements besides an agreement to reconvene on 23 May in Baghdad. After the Istanbul meeting, Netanyahu said Iran has been given a “freebie,” as it received five more weeks “to continue enrichment without any limitation.”
According to a report in Haaretz, Ashton came to Israel ahead of the next round of talks to “prevent Israel from speaking out publicly against the talks.” Ashton was briefing Netanyahu about past and future discussions with Iran “in an effort to assuage his concerns that a deal is in the works that would authorise Iran to continue enriching uranium,” Haaretz added.