JERUSALEM: Israel’s intelligence minister on Monday proposed terms for a final nuclear accord with Iran which he said would be an improvement on the outline drawn up last week.
Yuval Steinitz told journalists that US President Barack Obama’s pledge to back Israel’s security was appreciated, but it did not outweigh the potential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.
“If Iran will produce nuclear weapons, this is an existential threat to Israel,” Steinitz said.
“Nobody can tell us that backing and assistance are enough to completely resist or to neutralize such a threat”.
Steinitz proposed that the emerging deal between Iran and world powers should incorporate a total halt to research and development on a new generation of centrifuges, a cut in the number of existing centrifuges and closure of the Fordo facility for enrichment of uranium.
He also proposed that Tehran detail its past nuclear arms research and allow international inspectors to make spot checks “anywhere, anytime”.
If such terms were accepted, Steinitz said, “it will not be a good agreement but it will be a more reasonable agreement.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government fiercely oppose the draft agreement announced on Thursday after marathon talks in Switzerland.
“Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period,” Netanyahu said in response.
Steinitz said that since Thursday’s announcement officials have studied the proposals carefully.
“A comprehensive analysis of the Lausanne framework reveals the extent of the irresponsible concessions given to Iran and makes clear how dangerous the framework is for Israel, the region and the entire world,” he said.
“We are going to do an additional effort to convince the US administration, to convince Congress, to convince Britain and France and Russia not to sign this bad deal, or at least to dramatically change it and fix it.”
Steinitz said Israel preferred a diplomatic solution to the issue but it reserved the right to take military action against Iran if necessary.
“It’s still on the table, it’s going to remain on the table,” he said.
“It’s our right and duty to decide how to defend ourselves, especially if our national security and even very existence are under threat.”