J´lem warns against futile nuke talks with Iran (JERUSALEM POST) By HERB KEINON 03/29/12)
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Negotiations between the world powers and Iran will succeed only if
they lead to an immediate change in Iran’s behavior and a halt to its
enrichment of uranium, an Israeli government official said Wednesday,
commenting on prospects the talks will begin on April 13.
Iranian media quoted Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as
saying discussions were taking place now about where the talks
between Iran and representatives of the US, Russia, China, France,
Britain and Germany will take place. This group of nations is known
as the P5+1 because it comprises all five veto-wielding members of
the UN Security Council, plus Germany.
Salehi said Turkey, which hosted the talks that ended in failure last
year, had offered to host the talks again. Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Tehran Wednesday for two days of
talks on the nuclear program and the situation in Syria.
According to media reports from Iran, Erdogan spoke out against any
attack on a country “pursuing a peaceful nuclear program.”
While Israel had no formal reaction to the upcoming P5+1 talks, one
official said that the world needed to make it clear to the Iranians
that it was unacceptable for them to “talk and enrich” uranium at the
Earlier this month in Ottawa, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
warned the world against “falling into the trap” of allowing the
Iranians to buy time through negotiations to move their nuclear
“Right now, Iran is feeling the pressure of economic sanctions, and
it could try to evade that pressure by entering talks,” he said.
To avoid that, Netanyahu laid down what he said needed to be the
three goals of the talks: Iran must stop all uranium enrichment,
remove from the country all uranium already enriched beyond 3.5
percent and close down its underground nuclear facility at Qom.
On Saturday, Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor replaced the
demand to close Qom with a call for a much tighter inspection regime.
So far only Israel has listed these principles as the goals of the
talks, with none of the countries involved in them adopting that
language as their own.
The official would not say whether Israel viewed this as the last
diplomatic opportunity to solve the Iranian nuclear crisis, but
said “we are close to crunch time.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has said in recent days that Israel
was giving the talks a chance to see “where they will go.” The last
meeting between Iran and the P5+1 in Istanbul in January 2011 ended
without even an agreement on an agenda.
Since then, Washington and the European Union have imposed tough new
sanctions on Iran, including an EU oil embargo that is due to go into
effect in July and a move by the Society for Worldwide Interbank
Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) to cut off a number of key
Iranian banks, making international financial transactions with those
banks all but impossible.
While Western diplomats have said it is hard to be optimistic about
the upcoming talks given Iran’s previous track record, analysts say
the negotiations could provide breathing space from the possibility
of an immediate Israeli attack.
“It will be difficult for the Israelis to attack Iran while there are
nuclear talks ongoing,” said Gala Riani, an analyst at London-based
risk consultancy Control Risks.
“It will also temporarily boost the position of Western camps... as
they will seek to illustrate that tighter sanctions on Iran are
having a desired effect by bringing the Iranians back to the
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is expected once again to
lead the talks on behalf of P5+1.
Earlier this month, the group called on Iran “to enter, without pre-
conditions, into a sustained process of serious dialogue, which will
produce concrete results.”
Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report. (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/29/12)
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