A recently concluded round of nuclear talks between Iran and the West yielded nothing but more time for Tehran in its race toward atomic armament, an Israeli official told AFP on Saturday.
The P5+1 group of nations – the US, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany – wrapped up a two-day summit in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, during which Iran was offered an easing of some sanctions in exchange for cooperation on uranium enrichment.
“We understand that the only thing that was achieved in these talks was to give Iran more time to move ahead in its quest for a nuclear weapon,” the Israeli official was quoted as saying.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the talks had been useful and left the door open for future bilateral talks between Washington and Tehran.
“Iran knows what it needs to do. The president has made clear his determination to implement his policy that Iran will not have a nuclear weapon,” Kerry said, according to Reuters.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he looked forward to “further progress by experts in March on the revised and credible proposal” the P5+1 put to Iran.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the international community should threaten Iran with “military sanctions” if the regime doesn’t stop pursuing its nuclear program.
“We have the problem of Iran that is continuing to defy the international community, [and] doesn’t seem to seek an end to its military nuclear program,” Netanyahu said during a meeting with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris in Jerusalem. “Like North Korea, it continues to defy all the international standards and I believe that this requires the international community to ratchet up its sanctions and make clear that if this continues there will be also a credible military sanction. I think no other means will make Iran obey the wishes of the international community.”
Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman accused the West of backing down.
“It’s clear to everyone that the Iranians don’t intend to halt their efforts to reach nuclear capability,” he said. “The reactors at Parchin and other locations are working at full steam without any [International Atomic Energy Agency] observer being allowed to visit.”
Iran maintains it has the right under international law to enrich uranium to 20 percent — a level at which uranium can quickly be further enriched for use in a nuclear weapon. Tehran claims it needs that level of enriched uranium for reactor fuel and medical isotopes, and has signaled it does not intend to stop.
UN nuclear inspectors last week confirmed Iran has begun a major upgrade of its program at the country’s main uranium enrichment site.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.