Barak: We made no promise not to attack Iran while talks go on
Defense minister fears P5+1 sessions are wasting valuable time
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday he believed international talks between Iran and the West over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program risk wasting valuable time and that they won’t lead Iran to halt its nuclear weapons drive.
When asked if Israel had promised the US not to attack Iran while international talks were still taking place, Barak said, “We didn’t promise anything.
“We are not part of the international talks,” said the defense minister. “Our positions are known to the Americans.”
Barak reiterated Israel’s position on the main points of the talks, the first round of which took place in Istanbul, Turkey, over the weekend, and suggested that Iran would likely not be willing to meet the West’s expectations. He said Iran was playing for time by agreeing to sit with the six world powers (known as the P5+1), who have set another session of talks for May 23 in Baghdad.
According to Barak, Israel is most concerned about limiting the Iranians’ uranium enrichment and wants to see the closure of the underground nuclear facility in Qom.
“Our preference would be for them to completely halt enrichment, but low-grade enrichment, to a degree of 3.5 percent, presents no serious danger,” said Barak in an interview to Army Radio. “In order to prevent a repeat of what happened with Pakistan and North Korea, the starting points need to be made very clear.”
On Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her country would maintain sanctions and other pressure on Iran as Tehran considers what it will bring to the table in the next round of talks, scheduled to take place in Iraq in May.
Barak, who is currently on a state visit to Colombia, is scheduled to meet with his US counterpart, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, later this week.