The Cable

Mofaz skeptical on Iran nuke talks

As a third round of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers ended conclusively Tuesday, Israeli vice prime minister and Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz called on the so-called P5+1 to focus on stopping Iran’s uranium enrichment during a speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Peace. "Such an agreement we didn’t see ...

GALI TIBBON/AFP/GettyImages
GALI TIBBON/AFP/GettyImages

As a third round of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers ended conclusively Tuesday, Israeli vice prime minister and Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz called on the so-called P5+1 to focus on stopping Iran’s uranium enrichment during a speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Peace.

"Such an agreement we didn’t see in the last meetings," he said. "Not in Baghdad, Istanbul, and in Moscow … [A deal] should be based on stopping all continued enrichment activity, removing all enrichment materials, and inspecting and dismantling all underground facilities, mainly Qom."

Mofaz, a former defense minister and Israel Defense Forces chief of staff who was recently brought into Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government, added that while now is the time for diplomacy and sanctions, Israel along with the United States and other Western countries should prepare all options.

"From my best view, the use of military power should be the last option, and if necessary should be led by the U.S. and Western countries," he said. "We should ask ourselves how much we would delay the Iranian program — for how many months, for how many years — and the second question is what will happen in our region the day after."

Diplomacy, though, is only good for so long, he stressed.

"When you say that this is the time for diplomatic activity and sanctions, it doesn’t mean that you have two, three, or five years," he explained. "We have a limit of time, and the limit of time is until the Iranian leader will take the last step to having a bomb."

Mofaz also addressed the ongoing crisis in Syria, where well over 10,000 people have been killed and thousands more driven from their homes since the uprising began in March 2011.

"My expectations are that the Western countries should give humanitarian support to the Syrian people," he said. "We cannot be part of it, and it is clear why."

Mofaz was more optimistic about Israel’s strained relationship with Turkey, which he believes will be resolved "in the coming months" because it is strategically necessary for both parties

On the topic of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Mofaz says he does not support Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon’s recently proposed program of coordinated unilateralism, in which Israel would not attempt to annex any territory east of the security fence and the Knesset would pass a law encouraging settlers to move to the other side of the fence.

Mofaz said that Israelis and Palestinians must "break the ice" and get back to the negotiating table. The future permanent border between Israel and a Palestinian state should be determined by the settlement blocs that house more than 250,000 settlers, he said, adding that Israel should continue to build in those blocs.

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