Netanyahu Takes Tough Line Ahead of Iran Talks.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday hardened his rhetoric towards Iran saying "Iran threatens Israel and world peace." Netanyahu's remarks at a meeting of the Civil Service Commission at the Foreign Ministry came as reports in the media indicate progress ahead of talks between the P5+1 and Iran slated for Baghdad on Wednesday.
"In the face of malicious intent, world leaders must show determination, and not weakness," Netanyahu said. "They must not make concessions towards Iran. They should present clear and unequivocal requirements."
Netanyahu repeated Israel's demands to the P5+1, the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany: Iran must give UN inspectors full access to all its nuclear facilities, must cease all uranium enrichment activities, and send all uranium enriched to 20% out of the country. "This is the only way to ensure Iran will not build a nuclear bomb. This is Israel's position. It has not changed, and it will not change," Netanyahu said.
He also dismissed gainsayers who claim Iran's nuclear program poses no threat to Israel, "There is no one who doubts the intentions of Iran. In recent weeks I have heard those who doubt Iran's intentions. The Iranians declare that they will erase Israel off the map," Netanyahu said, noting the head of Iran's military this week called for Israel's destruction.
"They are aiming for this. They say one thing in English and another in Persian. It was interesting to hear the comments of the Iranian chief of staff said yesterday....Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel. This is simple and straightforward. Iran's goals are clear: it wants to destroy Israel, and is developing nuclear weapons to realize this goal," Netanyahu said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday reportedly said Israel was willing to consider a proposal by the P5+1 that would allow Tehran to enrich uranium to 3.5% in exchange for full access for IAEA inspectors, permanent human monitoring, closing the near impenetrable Fordow site, and shipping its stores of 20% enriched uranium out of the country.
However, Netanyahu's statements seem to indicate that is not the case. Nonetheless, both Barak and Netanyahu have expressed deep skepticism of Iran's intentions ahead of Wednesday's Baghdad talks.
In April, following a fruitless round of talks between the P5+1 and Iran in Istanbul, both men charged the world powers had given "five weeks away" for Iran to continue enriching uranium, and said Iran was using the talks to "stall for time" in its quest for nuclear weapons.
Last Friday, Netanyahu again said "he sees no evidence of any sort that Iran is ready to end the nuclear program." On Monday he followed this with an explicit call for a "tough line" from the P5+1 in upcoming talks.