Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz Takes Hard Line on Iran

Nuclear Wrangling Gives Hassan Rowhani Breathing Room

Israel’s intelligence minister emerged from contentious meetings with American counterparts to say that any compromise with Iran will play into the Islamic republic’s hands.
getty images
Israel’s intelligence minister emerged from contentious meetings with American counterparts to say that any compromise with Iran will play into the Islamic republic’s hands.

By Nathan Guttman

Published October 24, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Leaving no room for compromise, Israel’s intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz made clear Jerusalem will oppose any nuclear deal with Iran that allows it to continue enrichment or that gives Tehran any kind of reward for temporary suspending its nuclear activity.

Steinitz, who led Israel’s delegation to the strategic dialogue talks held with the U.S. administration on October 23, emerged from the meetings with the impression that Israel and the United States differ on how to negotiate a deal with Iran, though he stressed that these differences are being discussed in a positive way.

“Good relations are tested when there are differences, and the fact that we are conducting such a significant dialogue indicates just how strong the relationship is,” Steinitz told reporters on October 24, hours before he met at the White House with Vice President Joe Biden.

Differences between the Obama administration and Netanyahu’s government center on two key issues:

The first is a proposal being discussed to move forward in a two-step approach which will include short-term confidence building measures and later a long-term agreement with Iran. In talks held in Geneva last week, Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif reportedly offered to suspend enrichment to 20% as a signal of Tehran’s seriousness. In return, the United States and its allies have been discussing symbolic gestures toward Iran, which could include releasing some of its assets being held by Western financial institutions.

“We oppose confidence building measures and any temporary steps,” Steinitz said. He argued that short term measures would provide Iran with the financial relief it is seeking without giving up its nuclear program.

The Israeli minister also rejected the notion that without any reward from the international community, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani will find it difficult to continue his drive for negotiations.

“We must not give into this idea,” he said. “Rouhani needs to know he has to make a choice between saving Iran’s economy and saving its nuclear program.”

The second point of disagreement between the two countries has to do with the substance of any future deal. Iran’s proposal suggests that even after an agreement is reached the Islamic Republic will still maintain the ability to enrich uranium to a low level in order to use it for its energy and research nuclear facilities. The United States has not stated its position on this issue yet, but many experts believe it would not oppose limited enrichment under strict international supervision.

“There is no reason in the world Iran should have enrichment capability,” Steinitz said. He argued that a deal under which Iran purchases uranium from a third country, as is the case with many of the nations that hold civilian nuclear capability, should be sufficient while amply addressing Israel’s concerns. “It is a win-win solution,” he said.

Steinitz, who was accompanied to Washington by senior officials from his own ministry as well as from the foreign and defense ministry and from the IDF and the Mosad, told his American counterparts that if Iran does reach nuclear weapons capability, it would pose a risk to the world much greater than that posed by North Korea, since Iran could have in ten years an arsenal of 100-200 bombs.

Looking at the short term, Israel’s opposition could now be used by those in Congress pushing for new sanctions against Iran. The administration has been working in recent days to convince lawmakers not to move forward new legislation meant to tighten even more the sanctions on Iran. Steinitz, who met on Wednesday with members of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East, repeated the tagline coined by Prime Minister Netanyahu: “The greater the pressure, the greater the chances for diplomacy to succeed.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.