Netanyahu sticks to his guns on Iranian enrichment

PM says there’s ‘nothing wrong with diplomacy’ — if Tehran relinquishes its centrifuges and stops producing plutonium

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to reporters during a press conference, Tuesday, October 8, 2013 (photo credit: Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to reporters during a press conference, Tuesday, October 8, 2013 (photo credit: Flash90)

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu reiterated on Tuesday his insistence that any Western deal with Iran must guarantee the removal of all of Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuges and the cessation of its plutonium production program.

In a meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu told his Greek counterpart, Antonis Samaras, that Iran’s nuclear program is a threat to the entire region, and that Tehran’s insistence on maintaining centrifuges for enriching uranium, while producing plutonium, was a clear indication that its goal is a nuclear weapon.

The two men met to sign an agreement aimed at strengthening ties and cooperation between the two countries.

Netnayhu expressed doubt as to whether Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, could truly make a difference in the bid to resolve the West’s concerns while decisions on the country’s nucelar problem were in the hands of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

“The greatest threat to peace and security of the region and of our world is Iran’s pursuit of its nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said at the ceremony. “Iran’s presidents might change, but that country’s nuclear program continues to expand. That is because the real leader of Iran, the real ruler of Iran, the so-called supreme leader, is committed to getting nuclear weapons.”

The prime minister said that talks between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations — Britain, France, Russia, China, the United States, and Germany — have thus far proven to be a failure.

“The only tangible result of the P5+1 is that Iran has managed to buy more time and to advance in this time its program to develop nuclear weapons,” he said. “Meanwhile, the Iranian regime continues to plan and conduct terrorism across the globe, including an attempt through its own agencies and its proxies in various countries in Europe: an attempt in Cyprus; a successful murder, unfortunately, in Bulgaria; terrorism across the globe.”

Netanyahu asserted that while Iran was desperate for a reduction in the severity of the international sanctions imposed on its economy, it had no intention of stopping its nuclear military aspirations to that end.

“I think that there’s nothing wrong with diplomacy if it achieves a good deal,” he said. “But a bad deal is worse than no deal. And a bad deal is a partial deal that removes the sanctions, or most of them, and leaves Iran with the capacity to enrich uranium and pursue the plutonium route to nuclear bombs.”

The US and other world powers engaged in talks with Tehran over its nuclear program have signaled that they would accept some enrichment for civilian purposes as long as it was under international supervision. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, a claim Israel and much of the West have rejected.

Netanyahu, however, reiterated his demand that Iran stop using gas centrifuges to enrich uranium enrichment and halt plutonium production altogether. He pointed to countries that maintain civilian nuclear programs for energy production without using gas centrifuges or producing plutonium.

“I met yesterday with the President of the Czech Republic,” he said. “They have nuclear energy. They have many reactors. But they don’t have heavy water plutonium reactors, which are only used for weapons, and they don’t have centrifuges for enrichment, because that’s what you need to make weapons. What does Iran insist on? Centrifuges for enrichment and plutonium reactors. They don’t need it and they shouldn’t have it.”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed