Israeli Leaders Take Hard Line on Iran Negotiations
Next week, the second round of high-stakes talks between Iran and Western powers over the Iranian nuclear energy program will take place. But that’s not stopping top Israeli officials from coming out swinging against the negotiations.
The talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 powers--the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany--are aimed at reaching a deal over the nuclear energy program. The West accuses Iran of secretly wanting to develop a nuclear weapon, while Iran denies this. US and Israeli intelligence agencies have concluded that Iran does not possess nuclear weapons currently.
In separate remarks, Israel’s prime minister and defense minister expressed deep skepticism over the talks.
Speaking after a meeting in Prague with the Czech president, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said, “I see no evidence whatsoever that Iran is serious about ending its nuclear program...You have to count me among the skeptics.” Ehud Barak, the country’s defense minister, was also skeptical. “I think that the real challenges now are these negotiations, what should be done about the negotiations,” Barak said in an interview with CNN.
Israel’s neoconservative allies in Congress agree. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox News last night that the US should not negotiate with Iran unless it gives up its nuclear program. As Think Progress’ Ali Gharib noted, this would effectively be an Iranian surrender before negotiations kick off--a non-starter.