Sunday, October 25, 2009

Netanyahu Says I.R. Iran Deal Must End Enrichment

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Iran must agree to stop all uranium enrichment in any deal with world powers. The U.N. nuclear watchdog and world powers headed by the United States are trying to reduce Tehran's stockpile of enriched uranium in return for supplying a medical reactor. They hope the deal will build trust on the way to persuading Iran to give up uranium enrichment, which they fear is part of an atomic weapons programme, even though Iran says the uranium will only fuel power stations. "The crucial thing is that the international community pressure Iran to stop the enrichment of uranium," Netanyahu told the Washington Post in an interview published on Saturday. "The purpose of enrichment is the development of nuclear weapons capability, so any solution has to be accompanied by the cessation of enrichment," he said. Iran consistently makes clear that it does not intend to give up enrichment, while Israel's leaders see Iran's nuclear programme as an existential threat and say all options must be kept on the table. When asked about a possible Israeli strike on Iran, Netanyahu said: "Since it's the problem of the international community, the international effort led by the United States is the way to stop this danger."

Netanyahu also said his government was considering setting up an independent inquiry into Israeli military action during a December-January war against Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip. "We're looking into that, not because of the Goldstone report, but because of our own internal needs," he said. The U.N. Human Rights Council singled out Israel for censure in a resolution last week endorsing a report on the war by South African jurist Richard Goldstone. The resolution endorsed his recommendation that war crimes committed by both sides be referred to the U.N. Security Council if the sides failed to hold credible domestic investigations within six months. Netanyahu's government has already formed a committee to handle international legal consequences of the report. "Israel was defending itself with just means against an unjust attack," Netanyahu said. He called for changes to the international laws of war to contend with the spread of global terrorism. "If the terrorists believe they have a licence to kill by choosing to kill from behind civilian lines, that's what they'll do again and again. What exactly is Israel supposed to do?"