Iran will likely retain nuke breakout ability, warns ex-defense minister

Iran will likely retain nuke breakout ability, warns ex-defense minister

Meanwhile, energy minister argues that Western detente with Tehran aims at getting Iranian oil back on global market

Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz  (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Former defense minister and Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz on Thursday said that any agreement reached between world powers and Iran would likely keep Iran’s uranium enrichment infrastructure intact, and therefore guarantee Tehran’s ability to kickstart development of nuclear weapons.

Speaking to Israel Radio, Mofaz said, however, that even if a nuclear-armed Iran was only delayed by a few years, it would still be an achievement for Israel. He said Iran’s nuclear program was an existential threat to Israel, but that negotiations needed to be given a chance. Mofaz, who is also a former IDF chief of staff, suggested that Jerusalem should work behind the scenes to influence the talks with Iran.

Also speaking to the station, Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom contended that the primary motive behind the Geneva nuclear talks between world powers and Iran was financial rather than prevention of Tehran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Shalom said world powers were interested in reopening global access to Iranian oil supplies and reducing the price of oil.

The P5+1 countries — the US, Britain, France, China, and Russia, and Germany — held two days of talks with Iran Tuesday-Wednesday to try to resolve concerns that the Islamic Republic is striving to develop nuclear weapons. Iran wants painful international sanctions to be lifted in exchange for possible concessions it had been previously unwilling to consider, such as increased international monitoring of its nuclear program and the scaling back of Iran’s uranium enrichment — a potential path to nuclear arms and the centerpiece of its impasse with the West.

Among one of the most significant sanctions was a ban introduced last year on purchasing Iranian oil. Lifting these sanctions would increase global oil supply and could reduce prices in Western markets.

Reports from the talks on both Israel’s Channel 2 and Channel 10 news Wednesday night indicated that Iran insists on retaining what it calls the right to enrich uranium on its own territory, but is ready to reduce the degree of enrichment and is prepared to allow surprise inspections of its facilities. While specific proposals were not made public Thursday, the reports further indicated that Iran was proposing a six-month period of confidence-building gestures between the sides, followed by a six-month period in which agreed changes would be implemented in the Iranian nuclear program.

The sides released a statement at the end of the two days of talks calling the meetings “substantive and forward looking.”

The sides will hold another high-level meeting November 7 and 8 in Geneva, and Iranian and Western “scientific and sanctions experts” will convene before that date “to address differences and to develop practical steps,” the statement read.

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