Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, derided an Iran nuclear deal that would rely on inspections as U.S. and Iranian officials had a rare meeting to advance such an agreement.
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“The Iranian regime knows that inspectors will not stop them,” Dermer said Monday in an address to the annual State of Israel Bonds banquet in Washington.
“They know if they keep their nuclear weapons-making capability intact, eventually they will develop the bomb. That is why the only thing that should be acceptable to the international community is one in which that capability is fully dismantled. Don’t count on inspectors to solve the problem for you.”
Obama administration officials have said repeatedly that a limited uranium enrichment capability policed by a tough inspections regime is the likely outcome of nuclear talks now underway.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected any outcome that allows continued enrichment, something Dermer reiterated in his speech. Netanyahu also has called for increased sanctions on Iran.
Dermer’s remarks came even as U.S. and Iranian officials held talks in Geneva to tackle ways of breaking a deadlock which has raised the likelihood that the July 20 deadline will lapse without a deal meant to head off the risk of a Middle East war over the nuclear issue.
A senior Iranian official said the talks could be extended for another six months.
"It's still too early to judge whether an extension will be needed. This hope still exists that we will be able to reach a final agreement by the end of the six months on July 20," Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said.
Dermer's statement contrasted with remarks made earlier by Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, who said Tehran has so far abided by the interim agreement it signed in January, and “could very well” end up signing a permanent deal too.
"In the meantime, Iran is abiding by the interim agreement and the pressures, mainly the economic crisis, are leading it toward a dialogue, which we regard as serious-minded, on a permanent agreement," Brun said in an address to the Herzliya Conference.
Brun's was not the first high-level divergence from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's dismissive stance towards the Iran talks. In January, Israeli Air Force Commander Major-General Amir Eshel said that the Iran diplomacy appeared to have "a positive direction" although he added: "I don't know how it will end."
The negotiations with Iran stumbled in Vienna last month when each side accused the other of posing unrealistic demands. At the core of the dispute is the extent to which the Islamic Republic which denies Western suspicions that it is seeking a nuclear weapons capability - might retain technologies with bomb-making potential in exchange for wider sanctions relief.