Netanyahu seeks tough new terms in Iran talks

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 (UPI) — A permanent nuclear deal with Iran must contain a vow Tehran will end anti-Israel threats and stop backing anti-Israel militants, Israel’s prime minister said.

Binyamin Netanyahu made the demand to the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy as expert-level negotiators from Iran and the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany — the six world powers overseeing an interim agreement worked out in Geneva, Switzerland, last month — were to meet for two days in Vienna starting Monday to discuss inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors reporting to the United Nations Sunday visited a heavy-water Iranian nuclear production plant made available for inspection under the Nov. 24 interim deal.

“[Iran] is committed to our annihilation, and I believe that there must be an uncompromising demand at the Geneva talks for a change in Iran’s policy,” Netanyahu told the Washington forum in a live video link from Jerusalem.

“In other words, there needs to be not just a change in the capability of Iran to arm itself, but also a change in its policy of genocide,” he said.

U.S. and European officials have said the Geneva talks are focused only on the nuclear issue, viewing Iran’s possible nuclear-weapon development as the most serious threat to Israel and the international community.

Iran denies it has nuclear-weapons intentions.

But Tehran has made repeated threats to destroy Israel. It also supports Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups fighting Israel.

On the eve of the Geneva talks that led to the interim accord, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei referred to Netanyahu as a “rabid dog.” In his Nov. 20 remarks, he also suggested Israelis were less than human.

“Obviously we disagree with it profoundly,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the following day.

Kerry was in Israel last week conferring with Netanyahu about Iran.

President Barack Obama told the Saban Forum Saturday he believed Netanyahu should give the Geneva accord time to succeed, even while acknowledging he he thought it only had a 50-50 chance.

“Presuming that it’s going to be a bad deal and, as a consequence, not even trying for a deal I think would be a mistake,” Obama said.

Netanyahu told the annual forum of government officials, academic researchers, journalists and business leaders Sunday he agreed with Obama “a diplomatic solution is better than a military solution.”

“While Israel is prepared to do what is necessary to defend itself, we share President Obama’s preference to see Iran’s nuclear weapons program end through diplomacy,” he said.

At the same time, Netanyahu also linked international efforts to deny Iran an atomic bomb to Israel’s support for the Middle East peace process.

“Our best efforts to reach Palestinian-Israeli peace will come to nothing if Iran succeeds in building atomic bombs,” Netanyahu said in remarks quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

“A nuclear-armed Iran would give even greater backing to the radical and terrorist elements in the region. It would undermine the chances of arriving at a negotiated peace. I would say it would undermine those peace agreements that we have already reached.”

The interim deal calls for Tehran to freeze parts of its nuclear program for six months in exchange for an easing of some Western economic sanctions. During this interim period, both sides agreed to try to reach a permanent deal to end Iran’s nuclear threat.

By UPI

 

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