Israel Decries Fresh Concessions to Iran

(Reuters) -

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accused world powers on Sunday of stepping up concessions to Iran to enable a deal by June 30 on curbing its nuclear program even as Tehran balks at demands for heightened U.N. inspections.

Netanyahu has argued that the agreement in the works would not deny Iran the means of making a bomb, while granting it sanctions relief that could help bankroll its terrorist allies in the region.

“To our regret, the reports that are coming in from the world powers attest to an acceleration of concession by them in the face of Iranian stubbornness,” Netanyahu told his cabinet in broadcast remarks on Sunday.

Netanyahu’s point-man on the Iranian talks, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, said it appeared that world powers were prepared to accommodate Tehran’s resistance to expanded, short-order U.N. nuclear inspections and demand to continue research and development of uranium centrifuges that make nuclear fuel.

Over the weekend, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country, in the name of protecting state secrets, could reject stepped-up inspections — even at the cost of missing the June 30 deadline. Western diplomats had sought the right to carry out inspections with as little as two hours’ notice.

Steinitz, who was in Washington last week to discuss the Iran diplomacy, said the world powers — the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — were considering a stop-gap whereby inspections would be decided on “by committee.”

“Such an arrangement might offer reassurance on paper, but in reality it would give Iran time to cover up illegal nuclear activity or even relocate it off-site,” Steinitz told Reuters.