Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the United States to reject a deal which, according to reports, would ease sanctions on Iran if it limits uranium enrichment to 3.5 percent purity.
Netanyahu said Israel “utterly rejects” the deal and is not obliged to abide by it.
“Israel is not obliged by this agreement and will do everything it needs to defend itself, to defend the security of its people,” he said prior to a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Kerry announced last minute that he would fly to Geneva from Israel, where he is attempting to salvage Israel-Palestinian talks, in a bid to “narrow the difference in negotiations” between the major powers and Iran.
The deal would mean that Iran would stop enriching uranium to the 20 percent level that is close to weapons-grade and turn its existing stockpile of this material into harmless oxide but continue to enrich to 3.5 percent purity needed for nuclear power stations, according to a report Thursday in The Telegraph.
An agreement on what is being called a first-step deal is expected by Friday, when the current round of negotiations in Geneva between the major powers and Iran is scheduled to end.
Under the reported Western proposal, Iran would receive limited sanctions relief in exchange for an agreement to curtail nuclear enrichment activities.
Netanyahu said in a statement Friday that he told Kerry during a meeting in Israel that day that “no deal is better than a bad one” ahead of Kerry’s departure from Israeli to Geneva, Switzerland, where the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia and Germany are negotiating with Iran.
“The deal being discussed in Geneva is a bad one, a very bad deal,” Netanyahu said. Under the deal “Iran is not required to dismantle even a single centrifuge, yet the international community is easing sanctions for the first time in many years. Iran is getting everything it wanted at this stage but is giving nothing in return at a time when it is under heavy pressure,” Netanyahu added.
“I call on Secretary Kerry not to rush and sign but wait and re-evaluate to get a better deal,” Netanyahu also said.
An unnamed U.S. Senate aide, citing briefings from the White House, the State Department and sources in Geneva, told the Telegraph that in addition to the 3.5-percent limit, Iran would agree to limit the number of centrifuges being used for this purpose.
Iran would also agree not to use its more advanced IR-2 centrifuges, which can enrich uranium between three and five times faster than the older model, but would be under no requirement to remove or disable any other centrifuges.
Additionally, under the deal Iran would agree for a six-month freeze in some activities at its plutonium reactor at Arak, which could provide another route to a nuclear weapons-capability. Iran may, however, continue working on the facility.