Analysis: Mixed feelings over possible Iran deal (JERUSALEM POST) By YAAKOV KATZ 05/21/12)
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Israel was struck by mixed feelings on Sunday amid optimism in the
West that talks world powers will hold with Iran this week in Baghdad
could end in an agreement over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
On the one hand, Israeli officials acknowledged that without Israel’s
efforts and primarily Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense
Minister Ehud Barak’s saber rattling, the world would not have
imposed the sanctions it has and would not be taking the issue as
seriously as it is.
On the other hand, the Israelis are at the same time concerned that
under a deal that does not lead to a complete cessation of the
enrichment of uranium, Iran will be able to continue to develop a
nuclear weapon, albeit a bit slower than it is today.
The P5+1 – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and
Germany – seems to be putting the emphasis right now on getting the
Iranians to suspend their enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, the
closure of the underground Fordow facility and the removal of the
stockpile enriched to 20%.
The reason for the focus on this part of Iran’s nuclear program is
that this is the primary concern for Israel at the moment.
The enrichment of uranium to 20% levels and the activation of the
Fordow facility is what has served as Israel’s main justification for
a strike in the coming months or before Iran enters the so-
called “immunity zone”. If this is no longer the case, the timeline
gets pushed back as does a military option.
Israel’s concern though is that while Iran might appear to be
complying in the talks that will be held in Baghdad this week, it
might be toying with the West.
This fear is based on previous rounds of engagement with Iran over
the years which ended in failure. It is also based on a general
assessment regarding Iran that after working so hard to get to where
it is today, it will not easily walk away.
That is why Israel has been taking the more stringent approach,
calling for a complete cessation of enrichment activities, even to
the low level of 3.5%.
This could be for two different reasons: One possibility is that by
making tougher demands, Israel is hoping that the West will reach
something close –like stopping enrichment to 20% – which would be
enough. The second possibility is that without a complete stop of
enrichment, Israel would still feel justified to employ a military
option. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/21/12)
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