23/10/2009 A senior European Union official told Israeli officials this week that “Israel” is not privy to the details of the exchanges between Iran and the Western countries regarding its nuclear program. “You do not understand the extent to which you are not in the picture. You do not know how much you do not know and what is happening in Iran,” he said.
Accordingly, a number of senior Israeli officials backed the European official’s statements by saying that the release of the draft of an agreement with Iran caught Israel by surprise. However, a senior official in the U.S. administration told Haaretz Thursday that from the minute the talks began on a deal over the uranium enrichment program of Iran, Israel was updated on every detail by the United States, and was given detailed reports on the talks with the Iranians and the ongoing dialogue on a nearly daily basis.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Bureau refused to comment.
However, Defense Minister Ehud Barak broke Israel’s official silence on a draft plan under which most of its enriched uranium will be exported abroad for processing into a form usable in its research reactor, saying there was a need to halt all uranium enrichment on Iranian soil.
“Iran received legitimization for enriching uranium for civilian purposes on its soil, contrary to the understanding that those negotiating with it have about its real plans – obtaining nuclear [weapons] capability,” Barak said. He acknowledged that the deal, if signed, would significantly reduce Iran’s stock of enriched uranium, but said what is needed is a complete halt to its enrichment program.
“The talks [with Iran] must be of short, limited duration,” he added. “The principle we are recommending to all the players is not, under any circumstances, to remove any option from the table.”
Iran is slated to sign the agreement Friday, along with the United States, France, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Many details of the agreement have not yet been published, but the bits released to the public call for Iran to transfer about 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium – about 75 percent of its known stock – to Russia. There, it will be enriched to a level of 20 percent and then transferred to France, where it will be processed into nuclear fuel and returned to Tehran for use in its research reactor, which makes medical isotopes. The entire process will take about 18 months.