Negotiators hope for a comprehensive agreement by Nov. 24 under
which Iran, which denies seeking nuclear weaponry, would curb its
disputed activities in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions
crippling its economy.
The next round of talks between six world powers and Iran is
expected to be held later this month in New York, possibly on the
sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly.
Yuval Steinitz, Israeli minister for strategic affairs, said in a
radio interview he would head a government delegation to Washington
next week to press the Jewish state's demand that the Islamic
republic be stripped of all nuclear capacity - something Tehran
rules out and many Western diplomats deem unfeasible.
While not a party to the negotiations with Iran, Israel wields
influence in foreign capitals given its veiled threats to launch
preemptive war to prevent Iran getting the bomb.
"Next week I will be leading a very large delegation to two days of
talks in the United States ahead of the main, the central and
possibly the last round of talks between the world powers and Iran,"
Steinitz told Israel Radio.
He saw no sign of Iran significantly scaling back uranium
enrichment, a process that can make fuel for nuclear warheads,
despite diplomatic outreach by its President Hassan Rouhani.
"What Rouhani has done is concede on all kinds of secondary issues,
partial concessions, but protected the project's core, which is what
threatens us and the whole world," Steinitz said.
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"This means that in substance Iran's positions have remained as
tough as before, and if there is no dramatic development in the
coming month then either there will be no deal - or there will be a
bad deal leaving Iran a nuclear threshold state, and this is of
course something we are not willing to accept."
Israel is believed to have the region's sole atomic arsenal.
Steinitz led a senior Israeli nuclear delegation to Washington in
June, ahead of the previous, July 20 deadline for a deal with Iran,
which was missed.
As then, Steinitz said this time the Israelis would "share our
position and our intelligence information on this matter with the
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Susan Fenton)
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