Israel 'utterly rejects' potential Iran nuclear deal

08.11.2013 21:30

GENEVA - Israel rejected out of
hand on Friday a mooted deal
between world powers and Iran,
just as Secretary of State John
Kerry prepared to join nuclear
talks that aim to nail down an
interim agreement on the
decade-old standoff.
Western diplomats say that a
deal at the negotiations in
Geneva is far from certain, and
it would in any case mark only
the first step in a long process
towards settling the dispute
over Tehran's nuclear program.
Jason Reed / AFP - Getty Images
Secretary of State John Kerry
speaks on a cellphone followi
his private meeting with Israe
Prime Minister Benjamin Netan
on Friday.
Nevertheless, Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
said Iran would be getting "the
deal of the century" in the
talks between Tehran and six
"Israel utterly rejects it and
what I am saying is shared by
many in the region, whether or
not they express that
publicly," Netanyahu told
"Israel is not obliged by this
agreement and Israel will do
everything it needs to do to
defend itself and the security
of its people," he said before
meeting Kerry in Jerusalem on
Israel has repeatedly warned
that it might strike Iran if it
did not halt the nuclear
program, accusing Tehran of
seeking to build atomic
weapons. Iran says its various
nuclear facilities are geared
only to civilian needs.
Tehran is trying to win respite
at the talks from international
sanctions which are strangling
its economy. The United States
has said world powers will
consider relaxing some of the
sanctions if Iran takes
verifiable steps to limit its
nuclear program.
Iran and the powers are
discussing a partial suspension
deal covering only a limited
period. It would be the first
stage in a process involving
many rounds of negotiations in
the next few months aimed at
securing a permanent
The core of that first stage
would be freeing up cash frozen
in foreign accounts for years,
giving Iran access to funds.
Hours after meeting Netanyahu,
Kerry arrived Friday afternoon
in Geneva, where Iran and six
world powers are holding
negotiations. These are the
five permanent members of the
U.N. Security Council - the
United States, Russia, China,
France and Britain - plus
Kerry's unplanned trip to
Geneva was first reported by NBC
News' Ann Curry .
Israel has called for the
sanctions to remain in place
until Iran has dismantled its
entire uranium enrichment
program. "I understand that the
Iranians are walking around very
satisfied in Geneva - as well
they should be, because they
got everything and paid
nothing," Netanyahu said.
Kerry is visiting the Swiss city
at the invitation of European
Union foreign policy chief
Catherine Ashton in "an effort
to help narrow differences" in
the negotiations, a senior
State Department official
Ashton is coordinating talks
with Iran on behalf of the six.
After the first day of meetings
set for Thursday and Friday,
both sides said progress had
been made.
President Barack Obama said the
international community could
slightly ease sanctions against
Iran in the early stages of
negotiating a comprehensive
"There is the possibility of a
phased agreement in which the
first phase would be us ...
halting any advances on their
nuclear program ... and
putting in place a way where we
can provide them some very
modest relief, but keeping the
sanctions architecture in
place," he said in an interview
with NBC News.
Kerry said earlier in Israel
that Tehran would need to prove
its atomic activities were
peaceful, and that Washington
would not make a "bad deal, that
leaves any of our friends or
ourselves exposed to a nuclear
weapons program."
"We're asking them to step up
and provide a complete freeze
over where they are today," he
said on Thursday.
In Geneva, Iranian Deputy
Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi
was cautious on the chances of a
deal. "Too soon to say," he
told reporters on Thursday
after the first day of talks.
"I'm a bit optimistic," he
added. "We are still working.
We are in a very sensitive
phase. We are engaged in real
The fact that an agreement may
finally be within reach after a
decade of frustrated efforts
and hostility between Iran and
the West was a sign of a
dramatic shift in Tehran's
foreign policy since the
election of a relative
moderate, Hassan Rouhani, as
Iranian president in June.
Iran and the United States have
had no diplomatic ties since
soon after the 1979 Islamic
Revolution that overthrew the
U.S.-backed monarchy, and
their mutual mistrust and
enmity have posed the biggest
obstacle to any breakthrough
nuclear accord.