Netanyahu presents criteria for halting nuclear Iran, urges increased pressure

Netanyahu to meet Obama on September 30 in Washington, ahead of General Assembly; at cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, PM also says Israel must continue to bolster its own power so that will always be ready to defend itself on its own and in the face of any threat.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ministers on Tuesday that he plans to focus his speech at the United Nations and his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama later this month on demands that must be made of Iran to halt its nuclear program.

Netanyahu opened the cabinet meeting in Jerusalem by presenting four criteria for halting Iran’s nuclear program: that the Islamic Republic halt all uranium enrichment, remove all of the enriched uranium from its territory, close its uranium enrichment facility at Fordow, and stop the manufacture of plutonium.

“Only these four steps taken together can be considered an actual halt to the Iranian nuclear program,” Netanyahu said. “Until this has been achieved, the pressure on Iran needs to be stepped up, not let up.”

“The events of recent weeks have confirmed the presuppositions according to which we have been working – only a credible military threat can facilitate diplomatic or other steps and stop the arming with weapons of mass destruction,” he added.

Netanyahu also said that Israel must continue to bolster its own power so that will always be ready to defend itself on its own and in the face of any threat.

Netanyahu is expected to meet Obama at the White House on September 30, senior Israeli and American officials said. Due to the meeting, Netanyahu’s speech to the UN General Assembly will be postponed until October 1.

This will be Netanyhu’s first visit to Washington since his reelection and the formation of the recent government.

The prime minister’s remarks come a day after the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported that Iranian president Hassan Rohani is reportedly prepared to shutter the Fordow uranium enrichment facility, as part of a possible deal with the United States and Europe.

In exchange, Rohani would seek the removal the harsh economic sanctions facing the Islamic Republic, according to Der Spiegel.

According to the Der Spiegel report, Rohani plans to announce his offer before the United Nations General Assembly at the end of September. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif  is set to meet EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton next week and give her the details of Rohani’s proposition.

Also on Monday, Iran’s new atomic energy chief pledged increased cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog, delivering a conciliatory message ahead of talks between the two sides this month over Tehran’s disputed atomic activities.

Ali Akbar Salehi also said Iran was optimistic about the outcome of broader diplomatic negotiations with major powers, should the parties enter “with good intention and with the resolve to solving the … issue based on a win-win approach”.

By Haaretz


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