Israeli National Security Adviser heads to EU for ´sensitive´ talks on Iran (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Barak Ravid 05/01/12)
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National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror traveled to Brussels on
Monday for secret meetings with European officials ahead of the
second round of talks between Iran and six world powers.
His trip reflects Israel´s concern about the possibility of a deal
that would ultimately condone Iran´s enrichment of uranium.
Amidror met on Monday with Helga Schmid, who serves as the European
Union´s deputy secretary general for political affairs, under
Catherine Ashton. Schmid is coordinating preparatory talks with Iran
ahead of the second round of negotiations about its nuclear program,
scheduled for May 23 in Baghdad.
Ashton, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security
policy, heads the negotiation team for talks with Iran. The team is
comprised of delegates from the five permanent members of the UN
Security Council and Germany. During the next three weeks, Schmid
will be in contact with the deputy head of Iran´s negotiating team,
Ali Bagheri, to lay the groundwork for the next round of talks.
On Tuesday, Amidror will continue to meet European officials in
Brussels, before heading for Berlin on Wednesday. In Germany, Amidror
is expected to meet with his German counterpart, Christoph Heusgen,
and with Germany´s representative in the talks with Iran, Hans-Dieter
A senior Israeli official said the talks in Brussels and Berlin
are "extremely sensitive." He indicated that Amidror hopes to find
out much more about the first round of talks with Iran and will ask
for an explanation of the negotiating team´s strategy for the second
round of negotiations.
Two weeks ago, Amidror visited Moscow for a similar set of talks. He
met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who firmly said his
country opposes any unilateral Israeli military action against
nuclear facilities in Iran and believes that such an Israeli action
would have destructive consequences throughout the Middle East.
Lavrov and other Russian officials told Amidror that the Iranians
brought a positive attitude to the first round of talks in Istanbul.
Russian officials say the Iranians are prepared to cut a deal
reducing the scope of their nuclear program. Russia is proposing an
agreement under which Iran would be prohibited to assemble new
centrifuges for uranium enrichment and would round up all existing
assembled centrifuges that are not in use.
A series of reports that reached Jerusalem from Washington, Moscow,
Paris and other capitals following the first round of negotiations
led Israeli officials to suspect that the six powers were on the
verge of striking an agreement with Iran that would not require
Tehran to bring its nuclear program to a complete halt. A number of
sources indicate that such a deal would feature an Iranian
announcement that it was halting its effort to enrich uranium at
levels higher than 20 percent and agreed to send any existing uranium
enriched at that level or higher out of the country.
Such a deal may also include Iranian consent to allow international
inspection of its underground nuclear facility near Qom, sources said.
The sources speculated that Iran might demand in exchange that the
Western powers agree to lift economic sanctions.
Iran is particularly eager to keep the European Union from expanding
its embargo on the country´s oil exports and hopes to keep Western
countries from boycotting its central bank. Both measures are slated
to go into effect July 1. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 05/01/12)
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