* Netanyahu: Iran could use talks to delay and deceive
* Iran must close nuclear facility near Qom, says Israeli PM
(Adds Netanyahu quotes, background)
By Jeffrey Heller
OTTAWA, March 2 Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday global powers would be falling
into a trap if they pursued talks with Iran and he challenged
Tehran with a series of demands before he meets U.S. President
But at the same time, Netanyahu was careful at a news
conference with Canada's leader to avoid widening a rift with
Obama over what Washington fears could be an Israeli rush to
attack Iranian nuclear facilities before economic sanctions and
diplomacy run their course.
Israel, Netanyahu said, has not set nor does it intend to
set red lines for the United States in preventing Iran from
using its uranium enrichment program to obtain nuclear weapons.
Facing sanctions that could cripple its oil exports, Iran
said last month it wanted to resume talks on its nuclear
programme, negotiations frozen since January last year. But six
big powers, represented by EU foreign policy chief Catherine
Ashton, have yet to respond to the offer.
"It (Iran) could do again what it has done before, it could
pursue or exploit the talks as they've done in the past to
deceive and delay so that they can continue to advance their
nuclear program and get to the nuclear finish line by running up
the clock, so to speak," Netanyahu said.
"I think the international community should not fall into
this trap," he told reporters, with Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper, a staunch ally of Israel, at his side.
A report by the IAEA last week said Iran was significantly
stepping up uranium enrichment, a finding that sent oil prices
higher on fears tensions between Tehran and the West could
escalate into military conflict.
In some of his strongest comments yet on Iran, Obama said in
an interview published on Friday that "all options are on the
table" for dealing with Iran's nuclear plans and added that the
final option was the "military component."
Setting what a spokesman for Netanyahu called new
benchmarks, the Israeli leader demanded Iran dismantle an
underground nuclear facility near the city of Qom, stop uranium
enrichment and remove all uranium enriched above 3.5 percent
from the country.
Israel fears the Fordow enrichment site, in a mountain
outside Qom, would create "a zone of immunity" from Israeli air
Iran two years ago started refining uranium to a fissile
concentration of 20 percent at another more vulnerable site,
Natanz -- far more than the 3.5 percent level usually required
to power nuclear energy plants.
Tehran says it will use 20 percent-enriched uranium to
convert into fuel for a research reactor making isotopes to
treat cancer patients, but Western officials say they doubt that
the country has the technical capability to do that.
Nuclear bombs require uranium enriched to 90 percent, but
Western experts say much of the effort required to get there is
already achieved once it reaches 20 percent concentration,
shortening the time needed for any nuclear weapons "break-out."
(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller, David Ljunggren and Randall
Palmer; Editing by Anthony Boadle)