Kerry, Netanyahu Draw Differing Lines on Iran Nuclear Dispute

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Oct. 23, 2013, 11:02 a.m.

U.S. Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry and Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Net­an­yahu on Wed­nes­day met to dis­cuss Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram, when the Middle East­ern lead­er offered more spe­cif­ics than his U.S. coun­ter­part did for how he wants Ir­an to ad­dress in­ter­na­tion­al fears that it is pur­su­ing a nuc­le­ar weapon.

“It is of ma­jor con­cern to all of us that Ir­an not be able to de­vel­op a nuc­le­ar weapon,” Kerry told re­port­ers be­fore start­ing the closed-door meet­ing with Net­an­yahu, ac­cord­ing to a State De­part­ment tran­script. “We will need to know that ac­tions are be­ing taken which make it crys­tal clear, un­deni­ably clear, failsafe to the world, that whatever pro­gram is pur­sued is in­deed a peace­ful pro­gram.”

The United States and five oth­er gov­ern­ments last week joined Ir­an for talks aimed at ul­ti­mately de­fus­ing atom­ic ten­sions with Tehran, which in­sists its nuc­le­ar am­bi­tions are peace­ful. Plans are in place for a Nov. 7-8 fol­low-up meet­ing between Ir­a­ni­an dip­lo­mats and coun­ter­parts from the five per­man­ent U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil mem­ber na­tions and Ger­many.

Net­an­yahu, whose gov­ern­ment is not par­ti­cip­at­ing in the talks, said in the pub­lic re­marks that he agreed with Kerry that “Ir­an must not have a nuc­le­ar-weapons cap­ab­il­ity.” He then went a step fur­ther, re­new­ing his pre­vi­ous de­mand that Ir­an dis­mantle all urani­um-en­rich­ment and heavy-wa­ter equip­ment cap­able of gen­er­at­ing nuc­le­ar-bomb fuel.

“I think we’re very close to get­ting that,” Net­an­yahu said. “The best way to get it peace­fully is to main­tain the pres­sure on Ir­an.”

The Is­raeli lead­er said “it would be a tra­gic mis­take” to ease eco­nom­ic sanc­tions against Ir­an “right be­fore that goal is real­ized.”

A high-level Obama in­sider said the White House is con­sid­er­ing a full or par­tial re­lease of Ir­a­ni­an fin­an­cial as­sets frozen in oth­er coun­tries, as well as po­ten­tial re­lief from re­stric­tions on sales of ci­vil­ian-air­craft com­pon­ents to Ir­an, For­eign Policy re­por­ted on Tues­day.

In a sep­ar­ate in­ter­view with the magazine, Is­raeli In­tel­li­gence Min­is­ter Yuval Stein­itz said “Ir­an is now com­ing to the ne­go­ti­at­ing table solely be­cause of the pres­sure.”

“They are really on the verge of the col­lapse and that’s the reas­on they’re com­ing to the ne­go­ti­at­ing table with some will­ing­ness to ne­go­ti­ate,” Stein­itz said in the re­marks pub­lished on Tues­day.

“The pres­sure on the re­gime is enorm­ous. You can get a very ser­i­ous agree­ment for this. Don’t give it up so eas­ily,” he main­tained. “And don’t give them ex­tra oxy­gen while you’re ne­go­ti­at­ing with them. On the con­trary, in­crease the pres­sure.”

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