Israel ‘highly skeptical’ of IAEA deal with Iran

The West and Israel, widely considered the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, suspect Iran is using its nuclear program to build atomic weapon. (Reuters)

Israel is “highly skeptical” about a deal between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran aimed at trying to solve the dispute over its nuclear drive, a senior official said on Tuesday.

“We are highly skeptical about this apparent agreement between the IAEA and Iran,” he told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“This apparent agreement with Iran only deals with IAEA supervision, it doesn’t deal with the bigger issue: stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”

Earlier on Tuesday, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said the U.N. nuclear watchdog would sign an accord “quite soon” with Iran in a bid to end the long-running crisis over its atomic activities, in what he termed an “important development.”

Amano’s remarks were made on his return to Vienna after top-level talks in Tehran which touched on gaining access to the Parchin military site, where the watchdog believes weapons-related activity took place.

But the Israeli official said Iran had a history of violating agreements with the IAEA.

“We saw in the past how agreements between the IAEA and Iran were flagrantly violated by Iran,” he said.

“We saw that specifically when they hid two nuclear facilities, one in Natanz and one near Qom. We saw the same with North Korea, which despite their agreement with the IAEA, continued to develop nuclear arms.”

News of the deal was announced on the eve of fresh talks between Iran and the P5+1 world powers due to take place in Baghdad on Wednesday, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging the international community to show “determination, not weakness” over its nuclear drive.

“We stand by what Prime Minister Netanyahu said last night: Iran must stop all enrichment, remove enriched material, and dismantle the site near Qom,” the official said.

The West and Israel, widely considered the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, suspect Iran is using its nuclear program to build atomic weapons, charges that Tehran denies.

Israel says an atomic Iran would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state and has refused to rule out the option of a pre-emptive military strike on its nuclear facilities.

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