Middle East News
Draft Iran deal has Israel worried
Oct 23, 2009, 15:08 GMT
Tel Aviv - As the world awaited Iran's formal reply Friday to a proposal under which it would send most of its low-enriched uranium abroad for processing, voices in Israel against the compromise were growing.
The latest was Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who warned the enrichment agreement 'will blow up in our face and in the face of the international community.'
'Iran should know that all options are on the table,' Israel Army Radio quoted her as telling a farmers' union symposium near Tel Aviv.
'The world understands that it cannot afford a nuclear Iran, but to my regret there is a gap between this understanding and actions on the ground,' said the former foreign minister of the centrist Kadima party Friday.
Israel's Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom was expected to convey concern about the proposal to Ban Ki-moon in a scheduled meeting in New York.
Thus far, official Israel had largely remained mum on the talks in Vienna and Geneva.
The only reaction from an Israeli government official so far came from Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who late Thursday criticized the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) proposal as insufficient.
'The agreement, if it is signed, will postpone uranium enrichment in Iran by about one year. But if the enrichment is not halted, then the only end result is that Iran will have received legitimacy to enrich uranium on its soil,' Barak told a conference in Jerusalem.
'Therefore, a halt of enrichment in Iran ... coupled with immediate harsh sanctions free of any illusions and with eyes wide open' was needed, and without 'all parties taking any option off the table under any conditions,' said the Israeli defence minister.
Several Israeli lawmakers outside the government and former officials spoke out against the draft deal even more forcefully. They charged Iran would benefit most, buying precious time and removing the immediate threat of harsh sanctions, while within a year it would be able to refill the stock that it was giving up.
Former Israeli army chief of staff and defence minister Shaul Mofaz, of Kadima, was quoted by the Makor Rishon - Hatzofe newspaper as dismissing the draft proposal as 'a worthless piece of paper.'
Mofaz called IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei 'a serial cover-upper, an ostrich with its head in the sand,' who wanted to show the world he he had solved the Iranian problem before the end of his term.
The entire process, he blasted, was meant to show that Iran had 'accepted an international ultimatum.' He argued any agreement should include 'an absolute halt to uranium enrichment on Iranian soil, and full and comprehensive supervision of all its nuclear facilities.'