Washington: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that an extension of nuclear talks with Iran should be used to further increase pressure on the country to give up its atomic weapons ambitions and capabilities.
Netanyahu said it was fortunate that international negotiators did not meet last month's deadline for a deal because he said an agreement reached then “would have effectively left Iran as a threshold nuclear power.”
Negotiators from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany have extended the talks with Iran until July 2015, with the goal of reaching a framework for a deal by the end of March.
Netanyahu, who noted that Israel's “voice” and “concerns” played a critical role in preventing a bad deal from being reached in November, said it is imperative now to use the extra time to step up and reinforce demands that Iran prove its nuclear program is peaceful as it claims.
“Now we must use the time available to increase the pressure on Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons capability,” he said. Netanyahu, who spoke in a videotaped address to a Mideast policy conference at the Brookings Institution in Washington, did not elaborate on how the pressure should be increased.
Some Israeli officials and U.S. lawmakers have called for the U.S. to impose more sanctions on Iran but the Obama administration is resisting this, saying more sanctions would violate the terms of an interim agreement reached with Iran and crater the ongoing negotiations.
In his comments, Netanyahu also said that cooperation between Israel and moderate Arab states in the fight against Islamic extremism could “open the door to peace” between Israel and the Palestinians. However, he said that the Palestinian leadership must end incitement against Israel if that is to occur.
“The collapse of the old order has made clear to pragmatic Arab governments that Israel is not the enemy,” he said.