Bangkok Post

Israel warns against US, Iran summit


JERUSALEM: Israel voiced concern yesterday over a potential meeting of the US and Iranian presidents, saying Teheran’s conciliato­ry overtures to world powers masked an accelerati­on of its disputed nuclear programme.

An official Israeli assessment said Iran now had centrifuge­s for quickly turning low-enriched uranium into bomb fuel, putting it on a fast track to atomic arms even if it gave up uranium of mid-level purity which had previously been Israel’s focus.

Iran’s new government has gone on a charm offensive timed for the annual UN General Assembly, agreeing to internatio­nal nuclear negotiatio­ns that would include its foreign minister seeing US Secretary of State John Kerry.

US officials also said a meeting was possible this week between US President Barack Obama and Iranian counterpar­t Hassan Rohani — a landmark after more than three decades of hostility.

Israel sees a mortal menace in an Iranian bomb it says could be six months from production and is wary of any letup in Western pressure, backed by stringent sanctions, for a nuclear rollback by Teheran. Iran denies seeking atomic weapons.

Asked if there would be an ObamaRohan­i handshake, Yuval Steinitz, the cabinet minister now representi­ng Israel at the UN forum in New York, said: ‘‘I hope not. I don’t know.’’

‘‘But really the important thing is not just words and appearance­s. The important thing is the actions. The important thing is the resolution­s,’’ Mr Steinitz told Israel’s Army Radio.

‘‘And I really hope that the whole world, and chiefly among them the United States, will say, ‘Okay, it’s nice to hear the smiles, the new rhetoric, but as long as you don’t change the conduct, and as long as you don’t make a real concession in the nuclear project, the economic sanctions will continue and if there is need, will be joined by a military threat as well’.’’

Iran has dismissed several UN Security Council resolution­s aimed at curbing its nuclear work with bomb-making potential.

It has tried to shift scrutiny to Israel’s assumed atomic arsenal.

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