Israeli Spy Boss Praises Iran for Nuclear Progress

Contradicts Benjamin Netanyahu Over Claim of Threat

haaretz

By Reuters

Published June 09, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Iran is negotiating seriously on a deal to curb its disputed nuclear program, a senior Israeli intelligence officer said on Monday in a shift of tone from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s skepticism.

Brigadier-General Itai Brun, military intelligence’s chief analyst, told a strategic forum that Iran was honoring a November interim agreement that Netanyahu had condemned as an “historic mistake” for easing sanctions on Israel’s arch-enemy.

With the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany now stepping up contacts with Iran ahead of their self-declared July 20 deadline for a final accord, Brun voiced cautious optimism.

“It is very possible that Iran and the world powers that are negotiating with it are moving toward the signing, sometime during the year, of a permanent nuclear deal,” he told the annual Herzliya Conference near Tel Aviv.

“In the meantime, Iran is abiding by the interim agreement and the pressures, mainly the economic crisis, are leading it toward a dialog, which we regard as serious-minded, on a permanent agreement.”

It was a rare sign of high-level divergence from Netanyahu’s dismissive stance towards the Iran talks although not the first. In January, Israeli Air Force Commander Major-General Amir Eshel said that the Iran diplomacy appeared to have “a positive direction” although he added: “I don’t know how it will end.”

The negotiations stumbled in Vienna last month when each side accused the other of posing unrealistic demands. At the core of the dispute is the extent to which the Islamic Republic which denies Western suspicions that it is seeking a nuclear weapons capability - might retain technologies with bomb-making potential in exchange for wider sanctions relief.

GENEVA MEETING

Iran said it would meet U.S. and European Union officials in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday in a bid to salvage the diplomacy.

Widely assumed to have the Middle East’s sole nuclear arsenal, Israel feels uniquely threatened by the prospect of an Islamic Republic that calls for its destruction going nuclear.

The Israelis have threatened to attack Iran unilaterally if they deem diplomacy incapable of denying it the bomb. That has given them lobbying leverage in war-wary foreign capitals.

Addressing the Herzliya Conference separately on Monday, Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli cabinet minister in charge of nuclear affairs and a Netanyahu confidant, reiterated the government’s fear that Iran would be allowed to keep a “threshold” capacity to produce fissile material for a warhead.

“A good agreement with Iran is an agreement in which Iran may get the ability to present a developed civilian nuclear program like other countries have - Sweden or South Korea or Spain - but without the ability to enrich uranium and without the ability to yield plutonium,” Steinitz said.

He said Israel would prefer for the July deadline to go unmet than for world powers to rush into a “bad deal” whereby Iran would retain the means to cobble together a first nuclear weapon within months, should it decide to do so.

“We opposed the interim deal because we saw problems and holes in it. Nor do we like the idea of extending the talks by half a year or a number of months,” Steinitz said.

“But if the alternative that will be raised in the coming weeks, beginning with this imminent week, will be to try to seal an agreement at any price … it would be preferable - though we are not keen on this - to extend the talks by a number of weeks or months to close up all of the holes on a matter that is so critical to our well-being and that of the world.”


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!
  • "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:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • For 22 years, Seeds of Peace has fostered dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian teens in an idyllic camp. But with Israel at war in Gaza, this summer was different. http://jd.fo/p57AB
  • 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.