Netanyahu: Iran won't take nuclear talks seriously

Speaking in Prague, Israel's prime minister compared Iran's nuclear drive to that of North Korea, and said he has seen no evidence of Iran taking upcoming talks seriously.

Michal Kamaryt/CTK/AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to journalists after his meeting with Czech President Vaclav Klaus at the Prague Castle, Friday, May 18. Netanyahu and several ministers of his government are in Prague for a two-day visit.

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Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has serious doubts that Iran will stop its nuclear program or take upcoming talks seriously. Mr. Netanyahu made the remarks on Friday after a meeting with Czech President Vaclav Klaus.

There has been much focus on Iran’s nuclear program as the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany prepare to meet for talks with Iran on May 23 in Baghdad.

"I have seen no evidence whatsoever that Iran is serous about stopping its nuclear weapons program," said Netanyahu during his remarks in Prague, recounted by The Jerusalem Post. “It looks as though they [Iran] see these talks as another opportunity to deceive and delay, just like North Korean [sic] did for years.”

Israeli officials have said that time is running out to find a diplomatic solution and avoid a military strike. But despite Netanyahu’s strong words, Israel’s Haaretz reports that he stopped short of making any ultimatums.

Netanyahu’s remarks come at time of increasingly heightened rhetoric in the US and Israel about using potential military force against Iran if it continues developing its nuclear program.

“It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than to use military force,” said US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro according to The New York Times. “But that doesn’t mean that option is not fully available. And not just available, but it’s ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it’s ready.” 

The New York Times adds that while US officials have often made it clear that “all options are on the table regarding Iran,” it’s extremely unusual for an American official to explicitly mention crafting specific plans to strike Iran.

Israel would like Iran to stop all of its nuclear development and enrichment activities, which it says is part of a nuclear weapons program. Iran has always contended that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, namely the generation of electricity.

It is unlikely that Iran will entirely stop its nuclear program, reports Reuters, adding that a compromise will have to be reached. Iran insists that stopping it from developing a nuclear program is a violation of its sovereignty. The UN priority now is for Iran to allow its inspectors unfettered access to its facilities and for Iran to stop its higher-grade enrichment program.

There is concern that if Israel pursues a military option, the results could be disastrous for the region. Reza Pahlavi, the son of Iran's late Shah, told Al Arabiya that Israel would be much better off if it helped the Iranian people try to topple the current regime, rather than carry out a military strike.

“If Israel wages war against Iran now, this will cause a kind of tension with the Jewish people that had not existed since the time of Cyrus the Great,” said Mr. Pahlavi. “At the end of the day, the priority should be, and the whole world will agree, that the entire Iranian regime has to go.” 

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