U.S. Briefing on Iran Doesn’t Mollify Israel

YERUSHALAYIM -

An extensive briefing presented by Wendy Sherman, Washington’s top Iran negotiator, has failed to ease Israeli concerns that agreements being reached with Iran will not halt its march to nuclear power.

Following five hours of talks with Sherman, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said that Israel remains dissatisfied with the current approach.

“Israel reiterated and made clear its position that an agreement with Iran must include dismantling its ability to progress toward a nuclear weapon,” Steinitz said, a position at odds with the deal that seems to be emerging to allow Iran some enrichment capability.

Steinitz said the dialogue with Sherman dealt in “great detail” with diplomatic, intelligence and technical aspects of the Iranian nuclear program.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu slammed the deal at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, saying he was concerned Iran believed it could “realize its plan to be a nuclear threshold state, with an enrichment capability that it thinks cannot be touched, and with the ability to develop both nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles, which it is continuing to work on unhindered.”

“This combination of enrichment, weapons and launch capabilities, means that Iran is, in effect, receiving everything and giving almost nothing,” he said.

Sherman told reporters that she does not agree with Israel’s position that Iran must be denied any uranium enrichment capability, saying Iran might be allowed a “limited” nuclear program “that addresses practical needs.”

“I would like there to be zero enrichment,” she said. “I would like there to be no facilities, I would like there not to be an indigenous program. I would like many things in life. But that does not mean I will get them.”

Sherman has been traveling to Yerushalayim after every round of talks with the Iranians to update the Israelis. She will also be briefing officials in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week, states that share Israel’s concerns.