Israel stressed as Iran nuclear talks open in Geneva

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 |  Ryan Jones

Israel's security cabinet met on Monday night to hastily adopt a firm statement reiterating the dangers of a nuclear Iran amid fears that negotiations set to open between the Islamic Republic and Western powers in Geneva would lead to a premature lifting of sanctions.

In the days leading up to the Geneva summit, Iran signaled that it was prepared to make a "historic offer" to downgrade its nuclear program in return for the West halting crippling economic sanctions.

In response, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Obama Administration was considering accepting Iran's condition that it keep the bulk of its nuclear program intact, including uranium enrichment facilities, so long as Tehran promises to never build a bomb.

Were the US to not play along, a document released by Iran's Foreign Ministry last week revealed that it's game plan in Geneva is to isolate America from the rest of the P5+1 nations and sign a deal with European powers.

Whatever direction the talks go, the outcome does not look good for Israel.

"These negotiations begin at a time when the Iranian regime is under great pressure because of the sanctions and is desperately trying to have them removed," read the unanimously approved Israeli government statement. "Sanctions must not be eased when they are so close to achieving their intended purpose."

The cabinet warned that the only way to reach a true and final conclusion to the Iran nuclear threat is to not lift sanctions prematurely. "It would be an historic mistake not to take full advantage of the sanctions, by making concessions before ensuring the dismantling of Iran's nuclear weapons program."

The Israeli government also took aim at Obama's apparent willingness to let Iran keep the tools to build a nuclear bomb. "As has been demonstrated in many countries, from Canada to Indonesia, peaceful programs do not require uranium enrichment or plutonium production. Iran's nuclear weapons program does," read the document.

It's harsh statement notwithstanding, Israel is deeply concerned that the West is about to let Iran get away with "cosmetic concessions that would not significantly impede its path to developing nuclear weapons, concessions that could be reversed in weeks."

At the same time, the international sanctions that have brought Iran to this point took years to put in place, and would be nearly impossible to repeat if and when Iran reneged on any commitments made in Geneva.

In the meantime, Israel is increasing preparations to take matters into its own hands, should the need arise.

Overnight, the Israeli Air Force conducted an unusually large aerial exercise over the eastern Mediterranean. Army officials said the exercise was intended to send a clear message that Israel is prepared to deal with threats "both near and far."

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