Israeli Intel Minister Reaffirms Right to Act on Iran

Women pass an anti-aircraft gun outside Iran's Natanz uranium-enrichment facility in 2006. Israel's intelligence minister on Sunday reaffirmed his country's right to take independent action to address Iran's disputed atomic efforts.
Women pass an anti-aircraft gun outside Iran's Natanz uranium-enrichment facility in 2006. Israel's intelligence minister on Sunday reaffirmed his country's right to take independent action to address Iran's disputed atomic efforts. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel's intelligence minister affirmed his country's right to act as it wishes to address Iran's disputed nuclear activities, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Yuval Steinitz issued the warning after a five-hour Sunday meeting with U.S. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who has represented Washington in a dialogue between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany. Israel has expressed skepticism of the diplomacy, which the Obama administration hopes will ultimately negate the possibility of Iran assembling a nuclear weapon before the world could respond.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu echoed Steinitz's doubts on Sunday, in opening comments to a Cabinet meeting.

"Iran believes that it will realize its plan to be a nuclear threshold state, with an enrichment capacity that it thinks cannot be touched, with the ability to develop both nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles," Netanyahu said.

Any comprehensive nuclear deal "must dismantle the Iranian ability to either produce or launch nuclear weapons," the Israeli leader said. "Without the insistence of the major powers it will not be achieved."

Netanyahu, Steinitz and other top Israeli officials have alluded in the past to the potential for a lone Israeli attack aimed at curbing Iran's atomic program, which Tehran insists is peaceful in nature.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Sherman said the United States shares Israel's doubts that a long-term nuclear compromise with Iran is within reach.

"We do not know if, at the end of the day, we will be able to get this done diplomatically," she said. The top U.S. negotiator added that she expects Netanyahu and President Obama to have "a vigorous and robust discussion" on the nuclear standoff at a meeting scheduled for March 3.

Meanwhile, a senior Iranian diplomat said experts from his nation would meet with counterparts from the "P-5+1" powers during a March 3-7 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation governing board in Vienna, Agence France-Presse reported.

"The issues on the agenda are enrichment (of uranium), the lifting of sanctions and international cooperation on peaceful nuclear energy," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said in comments quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency. Higher-level delegates from the participating states met last week in the Austrian capital.

February 24, 2014
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Israel's intelligence minister affirmed his country's right to act as it wishes to address Iran's disputed nuclear activities, the Jerusalem Post reports.