Netanyahu, Barak refuse to see US official with negative report on Baghdad talks (DEBKAfile) Exclusive Report 05/26/11 10:25 AM (GMT+02:00)
The rupture between the US and Israel over Iran’s nuclear program
widened further Friday, May 25 when Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided not to be available
to hear the briefing brought to Jerusalem from Baghdad by
Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman who headed the US delegation to
the Six Power talks. The report she delivered to National Security
Adviser Yaakov Amidror and Foreign Ministry Director-General Rafi
Barak was that no progress had been achieved in Baghdad due to Iran’s
refusal to budge on its “right” to enrich uranium at low (3.5-5
percent) or high (20 percent) levels or shut down the Fordo nuclear
plant near Qom.
Although the participants agreed to reconvene in Moscow in three
weeks, the Iranian delegation stressed there would be no progress
until the US and the other five world powers (Britain, France,
Russia, Germany and China) recognized Iran’s absolute “right” as a
signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium.
Meanwhile, every day spent on diplomacy is thoroughly exploited by
Iran to zip ahead with its nuclear plans. The Vienna-based UN nuclear
watchdog (IAEA)’s quarterly report released Friday reveals that since
February Iran almost doubled its stockpile of more highly enriched
uranium which is close to weapons grade from 73.4 to 145 kilograms.
The centrifuges at the Fordo facility, built into the side of a
mountain, rose to over 500 from 300 in the last report.
Using the IAEA figures, DEBKAfile calculates that if Fordo goes on
producing 23.9 kilograms of 20-percent enriched uranium per month,
Iran will by the end of December have accumulated 336 kilograms of
near-weapons quality uranium.
The IAEA also reported that Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to
less than 5 per cent grew to 6,232 kilograms from 5,451 reported in
Its inspectors recorded “the presence of particles” of 27 per cent-
enriched uranium at Fordo. Iran maintained the particles were a
result of “technical reasons beyond the operator’s control.”
The IAEA report was released a day after talks between Tehran and the
six powers ended without progress.
Iran’s senior delegate Saeed Jalili declared that his government
would never accept the Washington-ruled distinction between two
categories of nations – one permitted and the other forbidden to
enrich uranium. He claimed this was against international treaties.
Friday, the Washington Post quoted Mohammad Hoseyn Moussavian of
Princeton University as revealing that in 2004, Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “I would resign if for any reason Iran
is deprived of its rights to enrichment.”
Moussavian is presented as an Iranian academic visiting Princeton to
lecture and write a book on the Iranian nuclear issue. DEBKAfile
reveals that he was the contact man in one of the direct, back-
channel negotiations taking place in Paris between the White House
and Khamenei. His words therefore were intended to carry weight as a
reminder to Obama that the supreme leader, like the US president,
intended to come out of their dialogue strengthened – not undermined.
And therefore, for both their sakes, Washington must endorse
Iran’s “right to enrichment.”
Tehran presented a second ultimatum for the nuclear talks to
continue: phased sanctions relief, starting with the postponement of
the European Union’s oil embargo scheduled for July 1 until the end
of negotiations and the reconnection of Iranian banks to the SWIFT
international money transfer system.
The gap between Israel and the Obama administration widened in the
course of Washington’s direct, secret give-and-take with Tehran. In
early April, Defense Minister Barak reported that Israel offered some
compromise on the enrichment issue. DEBKAfile disclosed at the time
that Israel had informed Washington of its approval of a “1,000
formula.” Iran would be permitted to activate 1,000 centrifuges for
enrichment and keep 1,000 kilograms of 3.5-per cent enriched uranium.
The Netanyahu government backtracked when this concession was used by
US officials as a lever for further accommodations with Iran.
The direct US-Iran channel and the second round of Six Power talks
with Iran have clearly left the standoff over Iran’s nuclear solidly
in place: Iran stands by its right to enrich uranium up to weapons
grade, the US stands by diplomacy, however hopeless, for resolving
the controversy, while Israel demands a time limit for negotiations.
Its military option was put back on the table for so long as Iran’s
enrichment centrifuges continue spinning at top speed. (Copyright
2000-2012 DEBKAfile. 05/26/12)
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