TEL AVIV, October 25 (Itar-Tass) - Grounds exist for Israel to be "cautiously optimistic” about prospects for resumed talks between Tehran and the P5+1 five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany on Iran's nuclear program, Israel’s Minister of Intelligence, Minister of International Relations and Minister of Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz told the Jerusalem Post newspaper.
New comment from the Israeli side contrasts with earlier statements, including those of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who insisted Iran was still developing nuclear weapons while seeking to conceal it with negotiations. Netanyahu had called newly elected President Hassan Rouhani “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and said military operations were the sole possibility.
But after meeting U.S Vice President Joe Biden in Washington, minister Steinitz, acting as Israel’s Foreign Minister in the absence of permanent minister, said: “Rouhani's government is interested in a peaceful solution, but they're interested in a peaceful solution convenient for them."
Negotiations would "take several months at least", he said, but “I am not pessimistic. I don't close the door for diplomacy. The greater the pressure, the greater the chances. If the pressure is preserved, and even increased, I will be cautiously optimistic," he added, noting that “You have to see that finally, the Iranians are coming with a real willingness to give up, and it's not the case yet."
The need was, he said, for “a final-status, satisfactory agreement, not an interim agreement”.
Steinitz admitted there were differences between Israel and U.S. views on relations with Iran. While President Barack Obama had asked Congress to delay new law toughening sanctions against Tehran amid progress in negotiations, Israel wanted pressure on the regime.
Events a decade ago in Libya were an example of how finally to resolve Iran's nuclear issue, the minister said. Former leader Muammar Gaddafi had given up uranium enrichment entirely. But Iran sought agreements such as those North Korea reached with the U.S. in 2007 when the country temporarily froze enrichment but soon resumed the process, Steinitz noted.