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Senior minister says Tehran would give up nukes rather than risk survival

Baghdad talks to begin this week between Iran and six world powers

Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon at the Inderdisciplinary Center in Herzliya earlier this year (photo credit: Yehoshua Yosef/Flash90)
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon at the Inderdisciplinary Center in Herzliya earlier this year (photo credit: Yehoshua Yosef/Flash90)

Iran will give up its nuclear program rather than endanger its continued survival, Israel’s strategic affairs minister said Sunday.

Moshe Ya’alon also called for Western nations to not let Tehran use negotiations as a stalling maneuver to keep enriching uranium.

“If the Iranian regime is forced to choose between survival and giving up its nuclear program, it will give up the nuclear program,” Ya’alon said.

Ya’alon’s comments were made as International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano was scheduled to visit Tehran Sunday.

An IAEA statement announcing the Sunday trip said only that Amano would “discuss issues of mutual interest with high Iranian officials” during his one-day visit.

But diplomats said Friday that the visit was scheduled to allow both sides to agree on an accord outlining the mechanics of IAEA access to sites, information and officials it seeks for its investigation into whether Tehran is secretly conducting nuclear weapons research and development.

This week will also see Iran and six world powers meet in Baghdad to hold talks regarding Tehran’s nuclear program. A previous round of talks in Istanbul ended with no agreement but cautious optimism.

Israel slammed the meeting as an attempt by Iran to buy time to continue its weaponization program.

“The Iranians are trying to maneuver, to hold negotiations while the nuclear program continues,” Yaalon said Sunday. “I hope that whoever is managing the discussions with Tehran will not fall into the same trap as previous occasions, when Iran tried to stall for time.”

Earlier today, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Iran was using the talks to deceive the West. “There are no illusions regarding the Iranians’ intentions and regarding their military nuclear program,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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