As the US and Iran geared up to hold bilateral talks over Tehran’s nuclear program, a senior Israeli minister called for the international community to avoid shoehorning in a bad deal just to meet the July 20 deadline.
“If on July 20 there is not a good agreement that prevents Iran’s development as a nuclear state, we must not settle at this stage for an agreement that is partial,” Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told the Herzliya national security conference.
Steinitz added that a nuclear Iran is a global threat, and declared that the “international community must act responsibly to avert the danger not only to Israel and the Middle East, but the entire world.”
Despite an interim deal struck last November led the US and its partners to release $7 billion of frozen Iranian funds in return for a slowdown in Iran’s controversial uranium enrichment and the recent development of direct talks, a long-term accord, in time for the July 20 deadline, remains a long shot, experts say.
The last round of talks in Vienna in May yielded next to no progress, which fanned concern that the P5+1 process was stalling.
The US and Iran are currently in the midst of their first full-scale official talks in decades aimed at bridging the gaps in negotiations for a deal on Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.
Steinetz said the international community should also take into account political and security realities vis-a-vis Iran when considering peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians.
“It’s nice that there are plans for peace and the regulation of the Middle East, but these plans must be based on political and security-related realities; otherwise we might as well put them back in the drawer. Anybody who ignores the Iranian problem is not living in reality,” he said.
Earlier in the day at the Herzliya Conference, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz expressed optimism about the ongoing nuclear negotiations, asserting that “with enough resolve, it’s possible to prevent Iran from getting nukes, whether with force or without.”
Aron Dónzis contributed to this report.