Israel highly skeptical on Iran-IAEA inspection deal

Ministers point to Tehran’s history of backtracking on agreements; defense official says Iran will never give up on nuclear ambitions

A missile displayed during a military parade outside Tehran.  (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi)
A missile displayed during a military parade outside Tehran. (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi)

Israeli leaders greeted UN nuclear agency chief Yukiya Amano’s announcement Tuesday that he reached a deal with Tehran allowing IAEA inspectors to visit Iran’s nuclear facilities with a great deal of skepticism.

Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor warned that Iran had misled the UN agency in the past and might do so again. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a similar vein that Iran had for years been “playing hide-and-seek” with the West and that he was “suspicious until it’s proven otherwise.”

Former Deputy Defense Minister and Minister of Homeland Security Matan Vilnai said Israeli pressure on the international community likely had a role in pushing ahead the deal, but also warned of Iranian backtracking.

Amos Gilad, the director of policy and political-military affairs at the Defense Ministry, asserted that despite the announcement, “Iran will never give up” on its ambition to achieve a nuclear weapons capability so long as the current regime remained in power, and that it would continue its efforts “even if they sign a deal.”

Former national security adviser Uzi Dayan insisted “the military option must remain on the table” until Iran halted all enrichment, shipped out already enriched uranium, and dismantled its clandestine facility at Parchin, accompanied by effective supervision to ensure no return to the nuclear drive.

An unnamed Defense Ministry source told Army Radio that an agreement could lead to Israel being isolated in its position, since it would never believe what Iran says even if the rest of the world does.

Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born Iran expert at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, said the IAEA deal was a positive move, coming ahead of Wednesday’s round of nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers known as P5+1.

“The very fact that after stonewalling the IAEA over questions regarding possible weapons-related work, Iran is now willing to consider reaching an agreement over this matter, is a positive sign and a positive development” which could increase the chances of the talks’ success, said Javedanfar.

President Shimon Peres reiterated his stance during a conference in the Negev Tuesday that the world has to increase its pressure on Iran in order for sanctions to have any effect and that Iran was a threat to the entire world, not only to Israel.

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against making concessions, saying world powers should make “clear and unequivocal demands” that Iran stop all of its nuclear enrichment activity.

“Iran wants to destroy Israel and it is developing nuclear weapons to fulfill that goal,” Netanyahu said at a conference in Jerusalem. “Against this malicious intention, leading world powers need to display determination and not weakness. They should not make any concessions to Iran.”

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