Barak: Iran´s readiness to make deal is trickery (JERUSALEM POST) By HERB KEINON, HILARY LEILA KRIEGER IN WASHINGTON 05/23/12)
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Israel responded with “extreme skepticism” Tuesday to International
Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano’s announcement of a dramatic
breakthrough in his talks with Iran. Senior officials warned of an
Iranian ploy to soften up the international community a day before
critical talks on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions begin in Baghdad.
Amano sounded upbeat after returning to Vienna Tuesday from rare
talks in Tehran, saying he expected to sign a deal with Iran soon to
unblock an investigation into suspected work on atomic bombs. His
wish for access to Iran’s Parchin military complex where nuclear
weapons-relevant tests may have occurred would be addressed as part
of the accord, Amano said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, however, was unimpressed.
“The Iranians appear to be trying to reach a technical deal that will
create an appearance as if there is progress in the talks to remove
some of the pressure ahead of the talks in Baghdad and to postpone an
escalation in sanctions,” he said during a meeting at the Defense
Ministry. Iran was fooling the West in its apparent readiness to
reach a deal on its nuclear program, Barak added.
Iran is scheduled to meet Wednesday in Baghdad with representatives
of the P5+1 – the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.
One senior official said Jerusalem’s skepticism over Amano’s
announcement stemmed from “rich historical experience, where we have
seen a consistent pattern of Iran routinely deceiving the IAEA.”
The best examples of this, the official said, were the nuclear
facilities at Natanz and Qom, which were hidden from IAEA view.
“To presume the Iranians have changed their pattern of behavior is a
precarious assumption,” the official said. He also pointed out that
North Korea had similar agreements with the IAEA, and then detonated
two nuclear devices.
Barak said that Israel’s demands remain a complete stop to enrichment
activities, including enrichment to 20 percent and 3.5%. Israel, he
said, also demands that all the enriched material, except for a
symbolic amount, be removed from Iran, which would also have to agree
to an increase in supervision of its nuclear program by the IAEA.
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the Iranians were
trying to extract concessions on the sanctions from the West and were
maneuvering to buy time. He said Israel would not be satisfied until
the Iranians stop all uranium enrichment, transfer what they have
already enriched outside the country and close the underground
facility at Qom.
With that, he said, Israel could live with a situation where the
world powers – without reducing the sanctions – would get Iran to
stop enriching to 20%, and close the facility at Qom. The goal for
the next round of talks, he said, would then be to get them to stop
enriching up to 3.5%.
Meanwhile, Amano acknowledged that “some differences” remained before
the deal he hashed out on his first visit to Tehran could be sealed,
although chief Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili had assured him these
differences would not thwart an agreement.
“The decision was made to conclude and sign the agreement... At this
stage, I can say it will be signed quite soon,” Amano told reporters
at the Vienna airport.
Dennis Ross, who served as a White House senior adviser on Iran last
year, said that the deal Amano had apparently reached was “a step in
the right direction,” but also expressed skepticism over whether it
“That would be certainly a very positive development, but we should
actually see it done before we believe that it’s actually going to
take place,” said Ross, who is now with the Washington Institute for
Near East Policy, pointing to previous agreements made by Iran and
Still, Ross did note a change in the Iranian approach to these talks
and previous efforts at negotiations.
“What we’re seeing for the first time are indications that the
Iranians at least are wanting to signal that they’re prepared to deal
on their program,” he said. “Now we’ll have to see [whether] what
they’re really prepared to do meets what we think is required.”
Ross cautioned against framing Wednesday’s meeting as a “make or
break” proposition, but added that the US would make clear to the
Iranians that they don’t have “all the time in the world.” He said,
however, that the meeting should reveal whether the “clock can be
stopped,” and whether it would be possible to find a way for the
Iranians to have nuclear power with “firewalls” that would ensure
Tehran could not use the program to build nuclear weapons.
Ross said signs of a willingness to stop the clock would include
shipping out the uranium that’s been enriched to 20%, along with some
of the lower-enriched uranium.
He said an Iranian agreement – to receive fuel from a nuclear fuel
bank, accept limits on the number of centrifuges and agree to
ceilings on the amount of enriched uranium – would be indications
that there is a possibility of an agreement allowing for civil
nuclear energy with no nuclear break-out capacity.
Ross said the US and Israel were “staying in very close contact”
throughout the talks, and said Barak’s visit to Washington last week
was “no accident.” Barak met with his counterpart Leon Panetta, Vice
President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during his
Meanwhile, in an apparent move to beef up its bargaining position,
Iran announced on Tuesday that it had delivered its first two batches
of domestically made nuclear fuel to a Tehran research reactor.
If confirmed, Iran’s ability to run the reactor with its own fuel
could remove any basis for a mooted deal under which Iran would ship
most of its enriched uranium abroad in a swap for such fuel, reducing
its stocks of potential atomic bomb material.
Tehran tentatively agreed to the swap in 2009 talks with the powers
but the deal collapsed over details of implementation. Iran’s foreign
minister said last month it was willing to consider an updated
version of the idea. Yaakov Katz and Reuters contributed to this
report. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/23/12)
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