PRAGUE (AP) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed skepticism Friday that Iran would agree to halt its nuclear program.
Just days ahead of a crucial round of nuclear talks with Tehran, Netanyahu said a diplomatic solution would be the best option but “I see no evidence whatsoever that Iran is ready to end its nuclear program.”
He compared Iran to North Korea, saying the Islamic Republic might make meaningless concessions, or agree to terms but fail to implement them.
“It looks as though they see these talks as another opportunity to deceive and delay just like North Korea did for years,” he said. “Iran is very good in playing this chess game. They know that sometimes you have to sacrifice a pawn to save the king. The goal of these negotiations should be very clear: Freeze all enrichment inside Iran. Remove all enriched material outside of Iran. And dismantle Qom.”
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany are gearing up for a May 23 meeting with Iran in Baghdad.
Talks reportedly revolve around to what degree Iran would be allowed to enrich uranium. Netanyahu said he wanted to see a total stop to their program.
Speaking in Prague Friday, Netanyahu called Iran’s nuclear program “the paramount issue of our time.”
He repeated Israeli demands to be met for the negotiations to be successful: all uranium enrichment inside Iran has to be frozen, its current stockpile of enriched uranium has to be shipped out of the country and an underground enrichment facility near the city of Qom has to be dismantled.
“When this is achieved, I’m the first one to applaud. But until then, you have to count me among the skeptics,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu did not present any ultimatums, but Israeli officials have said time is running out to avoid military action. Also the U.S. has said it has plans in place to attack Iran if necessary to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.