Israel: Only Sanctions Can Ensure a Genuine Diplomatic Solution With Iran

Ahead of two days of talks in Geneva between the six world powers and Iran, Israel releases official statement saying that it does not object to Iran having a peaceful energy program, but says in any agreement Tehran's military nuclear program must be dismantled.

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GENEVA - Israel's security cabinet convened on Monday for a special session to discuss Iran's nuclear program ahead of the talks between Tehran and the six world powers and released an official statement that called on the powers not to ease sanctions on Iran until it halts its military nuclear program.

At the conclusion of the session the cabinet unanimously adopted a declaration calling on the West not to let up pressure on Iran. In the statement, which was released on Tuesday morning just as the negotiations in Geneva were set to begin, the cabinet said that Israel does not object to Iran having a peaceful nuclear energy program, and would embrace a diplomatic solution. But any such agreement has to ensure that the Islamic Republic's nuclear weapons program is dismantled entirely.

"Today, another round of negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran will begin in Geneva," the statement read. "These negotiations begin at a time when the Iranian regime is under great pressure because of the sanctions and is desperately trying to have them removed. Sanctions must not be eased when they are so close to achieving their intended purpose." 

The cabinet further said that there is an "opportune moment" to reach a "genuine diplomatic solution" that would bring an end to Iran's military nuclear program via peaceful means.

"However, this opportunity can be realized only if the international community continues to put pressure on Iran and does not ease the sanctions prematurely," the statement read. "It would be an historic mistake not to take full advantage of the sanctions, by making concessions before ensuring the dismantling of Iran's nuclear weapons program."

A diplomatic solution, the cabinet said, would require Iran to comply with Security Council resolutions, and take other steps, including ceasing all nuclear enrichment, removing all the stockpiles of enriched uranium from its territory, dismantling the underground facilities near Qom and Natanz, including the centrifuges inside them, and stop all work on the plutonium-producing heavy water reactor in Arak.

"Unfortunately, we have seen no evidence that Iran is willing to accept such a solution," the statement read. "… Israel does not oppose Iran having a peaceful nuclear energy program. But as has been demonstrated in many countries, from Canada to Indonesia, peaceful programs do not require uranium enrichment or plutonium production. Iran's nuclear weapons program does." 

In the statement, the cabinet asserted that Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei do not intend to abandon the country's nuclear weapons program. The cabinet further dismissed the Iranian claim that it has the right to enrich uranium.

"… a country that regularly deceives the international community, that violates UN Security Council resolutions, that participates in the slaughter of civilians in Syria and that promotes terror worldwide, has no such right," the cabinet ministers said.

"Israel calls upon the international community not to reach a partial agreement that would fail to bring about the full dismantling of the Iranian military nuclear program, and at the same time, could lead to the collapse of the sanctions regime," the ministers added.

"The international community must reject Iran’s attempts to reach a deal that leaves it with the capability to develop nuclear weapons."

The cabinet statement addresses Iran's nuclear track record, noting that the Islamic Republic has made efforts for the past two decades to obtain "nuclear weapons capabilities," despite its expressed commitment to pursuing only civilian energy.

"During this time, Iran has repeatedly deceived the international community about its nuclear program, including its efforts to conceal enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom," the statement read. "Iran has also systematically defied United Nations Security Council resolutions which call upon it to end its enrichment."

The cabinet ministers stressed that in violation of UN resolutions, Iran has increased the number of centrifuges in its possession from 164 in 2006, to 18,000 in 2013, and has managed to amass tons of enriched uranium, all while continuing to negotiate with the world powers.

"An Iran with military nuclear capabilities would threaten world peace and stability as well as the security of countries across the Middle East, including Israel, which it threatens to annihilate," the statement read.

The cabinet emphasized that UN Security Council resolution 1929, which was passed in 2010, called on Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment and all activity at the heavy water facility at Arak. The same resolution demanded Iran to stop developing ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. 

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif prior to the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks, October 15, 2013, in Geneva, Switzerland.Credit: AP