"In the past, and also recently, what we heard from the Americans,
including publicly, and from the Europeans and even from the
Russians, was that Iran must be distanced years — not months but
years — from nuclear weaponry," said Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli
cabinet minister in charge of nuclear affairs.
Iran, which denies seeking nuclear arms, is in talks with Washington
and five other world powers on rolling back its work on uranium
enrichment and a potentially plutonium-yielding reactor.
Briefing U.S. senators last week, Kerry stopped short of saying
negotiators would "settle for" a timeline of six to 12 months in
which Iran could amass enough fissile material for a nuclear device
but said it would be "significantly more" than the current two
months it would take.
"The things that Kerry said ... are worrying. They are surprising.
They are not acceptable," Steinitz told Israel Radio.
The Israelis, widely assumed to have the Middle East's sole atomic
arsenal, see Tehran's nuclear program as a deadly threat and have
long threatened to launch pre-emptive war against Iran if they deem
international diplomacy a dead end.
The censure of Kerry's remarks follows a cascade of Israeli
criticism of the U.S. statesman's mediation of peace talks with the
Palestinians, which are now deadlocked.
[to top of second column]
"We will not be able to adopt and accept any agreement that keeps
Iran within a range of months to a year from nuclear weaponry,
because such an agreement would not hold water," Steinitz said,
reiterating Israel's demand that its arch-enemy be stripped of
"It would also prompt Iran to get nuclear weaponry, and Sunni Arab
countries like Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, perhaps also Turkey and
the UAE, to seek to launch a nuclear arms race."
(Writing by Dan Williams; editing by Crispian Balmer and Hugh
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.