Israeli Spokesman Calls Emerging Iran Nuclear Deal Dangerous

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iraA preliminary agreement on curbing Iran’s nuclear program is a “step in a very, very dangerous direction,” leaving much of Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure intact, Israel’s government spokesman said Friday.

Iran and six world powers announced a series of understandings Thursday, with a final agreement to be reached by June 30. An agreement is meant to cut significantly into Iran’s bomb-capable technology while giving Tehran quick access to assets and markets blocked by international sanctions.

Israel has harshly criticized the negotiations, demanding instead that the Iranian program be dismantled. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes Iran cannot be trusted, and that leaving certain facilities intact would allow the Iranians to build a bomb eventually. Iran denies it wants to produce nuclear weapons, claiming its nuclear research is for purely peaceful purposes.

Netanyahu told U.S. President Barack Obama in a phone call that a final deal based on the understandings announced Thursday would “threaten the survival of Israel.”

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said Friday that the framework agreement “is a step in a very, very dangerous direction.”

“It leaves Iran with an expansive nuclear infrastructure intact, doesn’t even close down one Iranian nuclear facility, not one,” Regev told The Associated Press.

“It leaves Iran with thousands of centrifuges to continue to enrich uranium, and allows Iran to continue research and development on better and faster centrifuges,” he said, referring to machines that can spin uranium gas to levels used in nuclear warheads.

“So what we have here is a deal that unfortunately gives legitimacy to Iran’s nuclear program and the sole purpose of that program is to get nuclear weapons,” he added.

Cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz, speaking on Israel Army Radio, said Israel would “fight in the coming three or four months to prevent a bad deal or at least make sure that it will be less bad.”

If implemented, the commitments announced Thursday would substantially pare back some Iranian nuclear assets for a decade and restrict others for an additional five years.

According to a U.S. document listing those commitments, Tehran is ready to reduce its number of centrifuges. Of the nearly 20,000 centrifuges Iran now has installed or running at its main enrichment site, the country would be allowed to operate just over 5,000. Much of its enriched stockpiles would be neutralized. A planned reactor would be reconstructed so it can’t produce weapons-grade plutonium. Monitoring and inspections by the U.N. nuclear agency would be enhanced.

(AP)