Issues at the Netanyahu-Obama Meeting

(Ynet News) Ron Ben-Yishai - Netanyahu suggests three preconditions for Iran before the West enters talks with the Iranians: One is immediate suspension of uranium enrichment in Iran's territory. The second is the transfer of some 5,600 kg. (roughly 12,500 pounds) of low-grade enriched uranium out of Iran's territory. The third is a halt to the installation of centrifuges and the dismantlement of existing ones at the Fordo facility, located deep underground near Qom. Running this site at full capacity of 3,000 centrifuges is considered by Israel as a situation where it would be unable to effectively hinder Iran's nuclear program via an aerial strike. The Americans claimed that this triple demand is impractical, and that the Iranians must not be presented with the desired ultimate result of the talks as a precondition for starting negotiations. Another issue raised in the meeting was the American reaction in case talks with the Iranians fail. In such a case, the Americans would impose another set of paralyzing sanctions they would try to pass at the Security Council. The most difficult issue to resolve is what is America's "red line" - the point where Israel and the U.S. would agree that Iran's progress requires an Israeli or American military strike or a combination of the two. President Obama told AIPAC that the U.S. won't tolerate a situation where Iran possesses nuclear weapons. However, Israel says defining the "red line" this way would in fact enable the Iranians to become a nuclear power. While Tehran won't possess a nuclear warhead or atomic bomb, it would be able to produce a nuclear device at any given moment. As opposed to uranium enrichment, the development of the actual weapon can be hidden relatively easily, and hence the Americans would not even know about it. Hence, Israel demands that the American "red line" would be defined as "nuclear capability," that is, Iran's shift to producing 90% enriched uranium, or a large quantity of 20% enriched uranium. Netanyahu also made it clear to Obama that Israel's red line is a situation whereby the new, underground enrichment facility at Fordo will approach full capacity.

2012-03-07 00:00:00

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