Iran made “no serious proposals” during the two days of talks on its nuclear program in Geneva this week, senior US officials reportedly told their Israeli counterparts. The talks were “exploratory” rather than substantive, the US officials told Jerusalem, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported Friday night. British officials updating their Israeli counterparts reportedly carried the same message Saturday.
Israel, nonetheless, is wary that Iran’s position at the talks — where it is said to have offered to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, and to convert the country’s current 20% stockpile into fuel rods, among other measures — may prompt the international community to consider partially easing economic sanctions. The New York Times said Friday that the Obama administration was weighing a graduated unfreezing of Iranian oversees assets without rescinding the sanctions themselves,
With that concern in mind, Israel’s Minister for Strategic and Intelligence Affairs, Yuval Steinitz, is set to travel to the US next week — both to be briefed on what was said in Geneva, and to warn Washington against being duped into premature concessions to Iran. His visit comes in the framework of the ongoing strategic dialogue between the two countries.
Iran “must give up the capacity to attain nuclear weapons,” Steinitz said Saturday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will also discuss the Iranian issue with US Secretary of State John Kerry when the two meet in Rome next week.
A report in Al Monitor on Friday quoted an Iranian source, with purported knowledge of the two-day talks between his country and the P5+1 countries, saying Tehran was ready to stop enriching uranium to 20%, convert its existing stockpile into fuel rods, relinquish spent fuel for the still-to-be completed Arak heavy water reactor, accept surprise inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and convert its Fordo underground enrichment facility into a fully-supervised research facility.
Israel’s position is that those ostensible concessions would still leave Iran with the infrastructure for a nuclear weapons program, Channel 2 reported. Netanyahu has repeatedly demanded that Iran be stripped of its entire “military nuclear” program, with Arak and Fordo closed, all capacity to enrich uranium removed, and already enriched uranium shipped out of the country.
The Al-Monitor report was denied by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif.
Zarif also accused Israel of trying to undermine what he described as progress in Tehran’s nuclear talks with world powers. He posted on his Facebook page that “there is a high possibility the talks would be disturbed through various efforts” on the part of Israel. Zarif said these efforts reflect Israel’s “frustration and warmongering.”