Sunday, April 15, 2012

Netanyahu: Istanbul talks gave Iran a gift


04/15/2012 17:05

PM decries fact that next talks on May 23: "Iran now has 5 weeks during which it can continue to enrich uranium without limit."

Prime Minister Binyamin NetanyahuPhoto: Gali Tibbon/Pool
Iran received a five-week gift from the world powers atSaturday's talks in Istanbul, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday in Israel's first formal reaction to the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers.
"My initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie," Netanyahu said, referring to the fact that the second round of talks won't be held until May 23 in Baghdad.
Iran, he said, now has "five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation, any inhibition. I think Iran should take immediate steps to stop all enrichment, take out all enrichment material and dismantle the nuclear facility in Qom."
Netanyahu, in comments made before meeting visiting  US Senator Joe Lieberman, said the world's "greatest practitioner of terrorism" must not have the ability to develop atomic  bombs.
The prime minister's comments came despite a positive reaction to the talks by both the US and the EU.
After a day in which diplomats had spoken of a more engaged tone from Iranian officials compared to the 15 months of angry rhetoric on either side that has filled the hiatus since the last meetings, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called the talks useful and constructive.
She said the negotiating powers wanted Iran to meet its international obligations – it is a signatory to the treaty which prevents the spread of nuclear weapons – and should reciprocate in negotiations.
The talks were never expected to yield any major breakthrough but diplomats believed a serious commitment from Iran would be enough to schedule another round of talks for next month and start discussing issues at the heart of the dispute.
Reuters contributed to this report.

UPDATE: Obama responds to PM Netanyahu's comments, posted on The Washington Post (Obama still doesn't get it, does he?!)

Obama pushes back at Israel, says US is offering no ‘freebies’ to Iran in nuclear talks