Nuclear talks don't exempt Iran from attack: Barak

JERUSALEM Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:43am EDT

Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak speaks during a news conference with his Colombian counterpart Juan Camilo Pinzon (not pictured) in Bogota April 16, 2012. REUTERS/Fredy Builes

Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak speaks during a news conference with his Colombian counterpart Juan Camilo Pinzon (not pictured) in Bogota April 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Fredy Builes

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's defense minister said on Tuesday that Israeli military action against Iran remains an option even while nuclear negotiations are under way, and voiced strong doubts whether the talks would succeed.

Asked whether the negotiations, which began in Turkey on Saturday, could persuade Iran to halt uranium enrichment, Ehud Barak told Army Radio: "It does not look to me as if it is going to happen - not now, in the wake of Istanbul, and not ... after the (Baghdad round of talks next month)."

Barak is due to meet U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Washington on Thursday amid speculation in the Israeli media that Israel has promised its main ally that it will refrain from attacking Iran while the talks continue.

"We are not committing to anything," Barak said, when asked whether any such pledge had been made. "There is not, there has not been, there should not be and there cannot be (such a promise)."

Barak has said that Iran could soon enter a "zone of immunity" against Israeli attack as it puts its nuclear installations deep underground, comments that raised international concern that a strike could be nearing.

In the interview, he reiterated Israeli fears that the negotiations between Iran and a group comprising the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany could drag on and waste what he described as "precious time".

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to open a rift with Washington over the talks by saying that a five-week break between the Istanbul meeting and the next session in Baghdad on May 23 gave Iran a "freebie" to continue enriching uranium.

U.S. President Barack Obama, responding to Netanyahu's accusations, said "so far at least we haven't given anything away" and that it had been made clear to Iran that "the clock is ticking" and there could be no "stalling process".

Israel and the West fear Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing atomic weapons. Iran says it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes.

In an interview on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the Islamic Republic could make concessions on its higher-grade uranium enrichment in exchange for an easing of international sanctions.

(Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Comments (11)
BCerentano wrote:
Shut up Obama. “The clock is ticking”. You’ve been saying that for nearly four years.

Apr 17, 2012 6:38am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Truth_Teller wrote:
President Obama may secretly want Iran to have the bomb, but not before the election. The idea is to pull down the evil imperialistic USA, by leveling the playing field. Spending us into ruinous debt could be in the same vein. The problem for the Israel is that they may not be able to wait to see if Romney wins November 2nd.

Apr 17, 2012 7:37am EDT  --  Report as abuse
RoaringFish wrote:
What is the problem with that?

Let me make a wild guess: you are a radical, warmonger Republican and think the sensible course would be to start a third never-ending war that the USA can’t afford? Be thankful that Obama has more sense.

There is no *evidence* at all that Iran is making nuclear weapons, only wild but empty right-wing rhetoric. Clearly, the radical right has learned nothing from all the lies they told before attacking Iraq, and think if they lie about Iran they can attack another Muslim nation.

Year after year, the IEAE reports that all nuclear material is accounted for – a fact the radical right just ignore. All nuclear material accounted for proves that none has been diverted anywhere else. Non-diversion means that Iran has no material to put in a bomb. No material to put in a bomb means that Iran *cannot* make a bomb.

If you thought a bit, if Iran wanted to build nukes they would leave NPT – obviously. If you have a secret programme, the last thing you invite in is a bunch of inspectors all over it and video surveillance.

Instead, they would copy Israel, a militarily aggressive fundamentalist country that refuses to join NPT or allow inspections of its nuclear facilities, and undoubtedly has nukes. I don’t hear the radical right howling about that proliferation though. That proliferation is just fine. Characteristic hypocrisy.

Apr 17, 2012 7:42am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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