Netanyahu: Western Concessions to Iran Growing as Nuclear Deal Looms

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Jewish Agency Assembly in Tel Aviv, Israel June 22, 2015.Credit: Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that western concessions to Iran over its nuclear program were increasing, two days before the deadline was to expire for a deal between the P5+1 world powers and the Islamic Republic.

"We are now witnessing a stark retreat from the red lines that the world powers set themselves only recently and publicly," Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu added that there was no reason to hurry to sign the deal with Iran, which he said was "getting worse by the day." He said that it was still not too late to insist on the demands that would prevent Iran from arming itself with a nuclear weapon and gain mass sums of money which he claimed would help it expand its regional aggressions.

The prime minister made his remarks as nuclear negotiations continued in Vienna, with the deadline for the agreement set for June 30. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif met Sunday morning for a third time in 24 hours.

On Sunday, a senior U.S. official said the talks will continue some days beyond June 30 deadline.

European Foreign Policy Chief Frederica Moghreni arrived at the Coberg Hotel in Vienna on Sunday morning to join the talks. In a short statement to the press, Moghreni said that if necessary, the sides would have to extend the negotiations beyond the June 30 deadline in order to reach an agreement.  "Getting a deal is going to be tough, but not impossible," she said.

Kerry was expected to meet later in the day with Mogherini, and following that with the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany.

Netanyahu told ministers that in a U.S. State Department report released a few days ago, Iran was listed at the top of the world's human rights violators. "All claims made within the international community about how [Hassan] Rohani's election [as president] changed the character of the Iranian regime are firmly answered by this report," Netanyahu said.

He added that another State Department report, also released a few days ago, proved that Iran was escalating its involvement in terror activities. "Despite these reports, the talks are continuing as usual," Netanyahu said. "There are no demands being made by the powers to change Iran's behavior, and they are completely ignoring its violations."

 German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned, meanwhile, that the Middle East could witness an arms race if Iran and powers fail to reach a deal.

"If there is no agreement, everyone loses," he was quoted as saying by the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. "This could result in a new arms race in a region that is already shaken by crises."

"The issue of if and where monitoring is done cannot be put into question," Steinmeier said, adding that the six would only show flexibility on how such visits would be conducted.

DPA contributed to this report