On Eve of Nuclear Talks, Iran and Israel Launch Efforts to Sway World Public Opinion

In YouTube message, Iranian FM urges world to seize opportunity to solve nuclear crisis; Netanyahu says Iran is heading toward the Middle Ages.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

On the eve of the third round of talks over Iran’s nuclear program, which open in Geneva on Wednesday, Iran and Israel are continuing their efforts to sway world public opinion.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif posted Tuesday a video on YouTube in which he said the world should take advantage of the opportunity created to resolve the nuclear crisis.

Zarif spoke in English on the video, but versions with Arabic, Turkish, Persian and French subtitles were posted Tuesday from Zarif’s personal Twitter account. In the five-minute clip, Zarif presents Iran’s arguments regarding its nuclear program, with a message directed mainly at Western countries.

“For us Iranians nuclear energy is not about joining a club or threatening others – it's about a leap towards deciding our own destiny rather than allowing other to decide for us – it’s about securing the future of our children, diversifying our economy stopping the burning of our oil and generating clean power – it’s about the Iranian nation moving forward as an equal. What would you do if you were told this is not an option. Would you back down?” Zarif said.

Zarif added that the Iranians are no different than any other people and demand to be treated with respect. According to Zarif, the diplomatic channel has not “hit a dead end and there is a way forward.” The choice facing Iran is not “submission or confrontation,” Zarif said. “This past summer our people chose constructive engagement through the ballot box and gave the world an opportunity to change course. The Iranian people are determined to explore this path – join us in ending an unnecessary crisis and opening new horizon,” Zarif said.

The talks are to open with a luncheon attended by Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is heading the talks for the P5 + 1 countries – the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.

The luncheon will be followed by a meeting of the Iranian delegation with the P5 +1 negotiating teams. The parties will try to bridge the gaps that remained from the previous round of talks ten days ago and reach an accepted formula of a preliminary agreement to restrict Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for economic relief. The talks are expected to continue until Friday, but they may be extended if deemed necessary. It the talks reach the point of signing an agreement, the foreign ministers of the six countries will go to Geneva.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vehemently opposes the emerging accord with Iran, continued his efforts to persuade the six powers, and met again on Tuesday morning with French President Francois Hollande and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius before their departure from Israel.

At an event in Tel Aviv with Hollande, Netanyahu told the French president that Iran was heading toward the Middle Ages while “we are marching toward to the future.” According to Netanyahu, Iran and radical Islam want weapons of mass destruction to meet their goals and they must not be allowed to do so. Netanyahu said he believed it would be a serious mistake to repeat the blunder made with North Korea, which he described as another closed society with a harsh and belligerent dictatorship.

Netanyahu said that in the case of Iran, a major opportunity had been presented and that it would be a mistake to give in to Iran when it has every reason to respond to the pressure that would eventually lead them to abandon their nuclear program.

As part of Netanyahu’s attempts to persuade the six powers not to sign a deal with Iran, Netanyahu is due to leave Wednesday morning for Moscow, where he is to meet with President Vladimir Putin. The latter spoke on the phone Monday to Iranian President Hassan Rohani. After the call, Putin released a statement that he believed an agreement between Iran and the P5+1 was closer than ever.

Illustration by Haaretz.

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