World demands of Iran are 'minimalist': Israel
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. AFP PhotoWorld powers are only making "minimalist" demands of Iran which would never be enough to make it halt its disputed nuclear drive, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said today.
His remarks were made a week after top Israeli officials met in Jerusalem with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to discuss the upcoming talks between the so-called P5+1 group of world powers and Iran which are due to take place in Baghdad later this month.
"The demands today at the start of talks with the West are so minimalist that even if Iran were to accept all of them, it could still continue and advance its nuclear programme," Barak said in an interview with Israel's military radio.
"They must completely stop the enrichment of uranium in Iran, not even to 3.5 percent," he insisted, reiterating a hardline laid out last month by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to Canada.
Iran has already developed the capacity to enrich uranium to 3.5 percent, the level required for atomic energy, and to 20 percent, which is used to create medical isotopes.
It would have to enrich to 90 percent in order to make nuclear weapons.
Last Wednesday, Ashton made an unannounced visit to Jerusalem where she discussed the upcoming talks with Barak, Netanyahu and two other senior cabinet ministers.
The P5+1 grouping of diplomats from permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany held a first round of talks with Iran on April 14 in Istanbul and a second round is due to take place in Baghdad on May 23.
Much of the West and Israel is concerned that Iran is trying to develop an atomic bomb under cover of a civilian energy programme but Tehran insists its intentions are solely peaceful.
Israel has consistently warned a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state, and has refused to rule out a pre-emptive strike in a bid to halt it.