Israel: Iranian Enrichment Concession “Irrelevant”

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters/Hamodia) -

Israel has dismissed as “irrelevant” reports that Iran halted its most sensitive uranium enrichment activity, and said Tehran’s nuclear program must be dismantled.

A senior member of Iran’s parliamentary national security commission was quoted as saying Iran had stopped refining uranium above the 5 percent required for civilian power stations since it already had all the 20-percent enriched fuel it needed for a medical research reactor in Tehran.

But diplomats accredited to the U.N. nuclear watchdog said they had no confirmation Iran had halted enrichment of uranium to 20 percent — a sensitive issue because it is a relatively short technical step to increase that to the 90 percent needed to make a nuclear warhead.

“The discussion on whether or not Iran has ceased 20-percent enrichment is irrelevant,” said an Israeli official.

“Even if Iran stopped 20-percent enrichment, it is still equipped with advanced centrifuges that allow it to go from a level of 3.5-percent enrichment to a military-grade 90 percent within a few weeks,” the official added.

“The international community must ensure the complete dismantling of the Iranian military nuclear program, and until then sanctions must be stepped up,” said the Israeli official.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was quoted by The Jerusalem Post on Sunday as asserting that most world leaders agree with Israel’s tough policy on Iran.

“Some say it publicly, some in whispers, some behind closed doors,” he said.