Israel criticized remarks by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in which he suggested openness to negotiating a nuclear deal that would keep Iran only six to 12 months away from bomb-making capability, as being “not acceptable,” reports Reuters.
“In the past, and also recently, what we heard from the Americans, including publicly, and from the Europeans and even from the Russians, was that Iran must be distanced years – not months, but years – from nuclear weaponry,” said Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli cabinet minister in charge of nuclear affairs.
Iran, widely believed to be pursing nuclear arms, is in talks with the U.S. and five other world powers on curtailing its uranium enrichment and construction of a plutonium-yielding reactor.
Briefing U.S. senators last week, Kerry seemed to imply that he would settle for a timeline of six to 12 months in which Iran could amass enough fissile material for a nuclear device, saying it would be “significantly more” than the current two months it would take.
“The things that Kerry said … are worrying. They are surprising. They are not acceptable,” Steinitz told Israel Radio. The Israelis see Tehran’s nuclear program as a deadly threat, as Iran has more than once suggested that Israel should be destroyed.
“We will not be able to adopt and accept any agreement that keeps Iran within a range of months to a year from nuclear weaponry, because such an agreement would not hold water,” Steinitz said, reiterating Israel’s demand that its arch-enemy be stripped of nuclear capabilities.
“It would also prompt Iran to get nuclear weaponry, and Sunni Arab countries like Algeria, Egypt Saudi Arabia, perhaps also Turkey and the UAE, to seek to launch a nuclear arms race.”