Barak: Nuclear talks allowing Iran to continue atomic bid 'ridiculous'
In interview to CNN, Defense Minister says Israel could agree to allow Tehran to maintain a negligible amount of enriched uranium that will 'never suffice for even one single weapon.'
Talks between Iran and world powers that will end in agreed-upon measures that would nonetheless allow Tehran to continue and pursue military aspects of its nuclear program are "ridiculous," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview on Wednesday.
Barak's comments, made during an interview with CNN's Peirce Morgan, came ahead of next week's round of P5+1 talks, due to take place in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
Referring to upcoming talks, Barak indicated that while Israel trusted the "United States and the other members of the P5+1," it expected them "to set the bar at a place where it becomes clear that at least, in however long it takes to reach there, block Iran from turning militarily nuclear."
"If the world community set the threshold that even if fully accepted, let alone only partially accepted by the Iranians, to keep moving toward nuclear military program, that's ridiculous, a delusion," the defense minister added.
As to the desired result of upcoming talks, Barak said: "There is a need to stop enriching uranium, to 20 percent, or even 3 to 5 percent, and to take all the enriched uranium out of the country. You can allow them to play with some negligible amount that will never suffice for even one single weapon."
When asked whether or not Iran was in a category of nations against which military actions must be taken – similarly to attacks on reactors in Iraq and Syria – Barak said:
"I cannot improve your description, it was so close to perfect. I think that the real challenges now are these negotiations, what should be done about the negotiations."
The defense minister also referred to an Israeli fear of a nuclear catastrophe taking place amid Tehran's bid to gain nuclear weapons capability, saying: "It's not about catastrophe, it's about a real challenge to the whole world, not just to Israel."
"I think a nuclear Iran will change the whole landscape of the Middle East. We have to do something to block it from happening. Be this the sanctions or the negotiations or [anything] else," he added.
Earlier this week, the RAND Corporation, a think tank which advises the Pentagon, warned against an Israeli or American attack on Iran's nuclear reactors, and recommended the Obama administration try to "quietly influence the internal Israeli discussion over the use of military force."
In a document published in the think tank's periodical, Rand Review, RAND openly disagreed with the belligerent stance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, which are set to meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other high-ranking officials over the next several days. In doing so, and without naming names, RAND sided with former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and former head of the Shin Bet Yuval Diskin.
The document further stated that "U.S. intelligence officials should support the assessments of former and current Israeli officials who have argued against a military option."
"U.S.-sponsored seminars outlining U.S. concerns and risk assessments for the Israeli intelligence and military community could also help shape the internal debate… U.S. public pressure on Israel will likely backfire given Israel’s sense of isolation, turning Israeli popular opinion, which is divided on the question of a military strike option, against the United States and allowing for more defiant positions among Israeli leaders… Encouraging Israeli leaders and journalists to report more to the public about security cooperation efforts could be helpful… War games now taking place at nongovernmental institutions in the United States and Israel explore conflict scenarios involving Israel and Iran. Such games clarify how an Israeli-Iranian deterrence relationship might evolve and what military or political steps could heighten or diminish conflict."