Senior Israeli official: North Korea pact is no model for Iran nuclear talks
Under the arrangement, North Korea agreed to stop its nuclear program in exchange for U.S. aid; Israel official: Attempts to compare Iran and North Korea are 'worrisome.'
Wednesday's agreement between the United States and North Korea that would halt the latter's nuclear program is no proof that diplomacy will be enough to stop Iran's pursuit of nuclear capabilities, a senior Israeli diplomatic official said.
Under the arrangement, North Korea agreed to stop its nuclear program in exchange for U.S. aid.
"Any attempt to compare the two cases is worrisome," the official said. "North Korea has already blown up two nuclear facilities and it's not the first time it has claimed that it will stop its nuclear program to get something in return. The last time the North Koreans made such an announcement they actually continued to advance their nuclear plans."
Just days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to meet U.S. President Barack Obama, American newspapers were filled Wednesday with stories concluding that sanctions could stop the Iranian nuclear program. Netanyahu and Obama are scheduled to meet on Monday.
Reports about the North Korea deal contributed to the Obama administration's full-court press against the possibility of an Israeli military operation targeting Iran.
"We should recognize what has been accomplished with the sanctions Congress passed and which we are aggressively implementing," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a congressional hearing Wednesday, when she was asked about the administration's position on a possible Israeli strike.
"Discussion [with Iran] hasn't gone anywhere, but pressure has been ratcheted up," she said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak yesterday met with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Washington, as well as with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey - and Iran was the main topic of discussion.
The Defense Department and the American intelligence community are widely believed to be orchestrating a media campaign against an Israeli attack on Iran.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that, in the event of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, Tehran would respond by firing missiles at Israel and carrying out terror attacks on U.S. bases or other facilities in the Middle East.
Also yesterday, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. Army does not believe that Iran moving its nuclear enrichment facilities to its underground compound near Qom will make it impervious to attack. Senior military officers were quoted as saying that the newest bunker-busting bombs the U.S. Army recently acquired could do irreparable damage to the nuclear installations, even even if they can't reach the deepest bunkers.
The American military has been conducting tests of the new bombs on bunkers said to resemble those near Qom.
The Prime Minister's Office and the White House Wednesday continued discuss the summary statement that would be issued after the two leaders meet. But White House officials stress that Obama will not take a public stance on Iran that is any tougher than his administration's current policy.