Israel cranks up media campaign ahead of Iran nuclear deal deadline

JERUSALEM Sun Jun 29, 2014 1:16pm EDT

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) arrives at a cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem June 29, 2014. REUTERS/Dan Balilty/Pool

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) arrives at a cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem June 29, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Dan Balilty/Pool

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged international negotiators on Sunday not to "surrender" to Tehran, as he launched a media blitz three weeks ahead of a deadline for an Iranian nuclear deal.

In interviews to broadcasters from the six world powers involved in the talks, Netanyahu reiterated Israel's long-held demand Iran be stripped of its uranium enrichment and other technologies, saying that to do otherwise would leave nuclear weaponry within reach.

"What it would mean is Iran at any time could kick the (foreign nuclear) inspectors aside or deceive them – it's done that in the past – and go rush to make the enriched uranium that is necessary to make atomic bombs," he told Britain's Sky News, according to a transcript published by his office.

"And they can do that within weeks or months. That's bad for Britain, bad for Europe, bad for the United States, bad for Russia, bad for China, very bad for Israel, bad for the Arabs too – bad for the world."

He has urged that any deal with Iran resemble the removal of Syria's declared chemical weapons under international agreement.

The six powers' overarching goal is to extend the time Iran would need to make an atom bomb, if it chose to do so. To this end, they want it to cut down the number of uranium centrifuges in operation. Iran would get sanctions relief in return.

Western diplomats say an extension to the deadline is possible - but, some diplomats add, only if there is a deal in sight, not if there is no progress at all.

Israel is not a party to the Iranian nuclear diplomacy. But Netanyahu has lobbying clout in foreign capitals given Israel's fear of its arch-enemy gaining the means to endanger its existence - and its veiled threats to launch a preemptive war.

A delegation of Israeli intelligence and nuclear experts led by Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz and National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen left on Sunday for talks with their U.S. counterparts in Washington.

LOOMING DEADLINE

Speaking to Reuters, an Israeli official said the delegation would "present Israel's views about a possible Iranian deal" and deemed the visit "urgent" given the impending July 20 deadline.

Iran denies seeking the bomb and has weathered several rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions meant to curb its sometimes secretive nuclear program. The Iranians point to Israel's assumed atomic arsenal as the real regional menace.

Both Tehran officials and diplomats from the six powers negotiating with Iran say they are still hoping to meet the deadline.

But there is little indication so far they have succeeded in bridging any of the vast gaps in expectations of what a deal should look like in five rounds of talks held so far this year.

The West has accused Iran being unrealistic and inflexible, while diplomats from Tehran have said their opponents are making excessive demands.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Additional reporting by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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Comments (15)
BanglaFirst wrote:
This devil Israeli PM has no leg to stand on against Iran, first Israel is evil to the core as it occupies Arab land just like Russia occupies Ukraine land and Israel has enough nukes to cover a football pitch so I know a lot of US people are thick like a plank of wood but realize or learn the facts before you starting barking at Iran which is a democratic country unlike your desert tyrant friends in Saudi, UAE, Egypt,Kuwait etc.

Jun 29, 2014 12:50pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
TBellchambers wrote:
The international community will no doubt accede to Netanyahu’s demands just as soon as he opens the DIMONA nuclear weapons facility to IAEA inspection and admits to holding up to 400 undeclared nuclear weapons of mass destruction plus whatever arsenal he has of chemical / biological WMD which the world has knowledge of due to the plane crash in Holland all those years ago that evidenced the importation of banned materials to be used as a precursor for chemical weapons.

The world hasn’t forgotten.

Jun 29, 2014 12:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
jvonrock wrote:
Obama’s leaving nothing off the table.

Jun 29, 2014 2:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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