ROME — Israel’s prime minister on Wednesday urged the U.S. to be as tough in nuclear negotiations with Iran as it is about dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.
The comments put new pressure on Washington to convince two of its key Mideast allies that America will not sell out their interests as it tentatively warms diplomacy with Tehran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the start of a seven-hour meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, said the world should not accept what he called a “partial deal” with Iran. He said that would include any agreement that falls short of requiring Iran to end all enrichment on uranium, get rid of all fissile material, and close water plants and underground bunkers that he said are only necessary to build a nuclear bomb.
Negotiations between Iran and world powers, which resumed several weeks ago after a six-month lull, have come nowhere near demanding the level of tough restrictions on Tehran that Israel wants.
The nuclear talks also have spooked Saudi Arabia, spurring Kerry to meet with top officials from both Mideast nations about an issue that has unified the two longtime adversaries.
Iran maintains that its nuclear program is peaceful.
“A partial deal that leaves Iran with these capabilities is a bad deal,” Netanyahu told Kerry. “You wisely insisted there wouldn’t be a partial deal with Syria. You’re right.
“If (Syrian President Bashar) Assad had said, `Well, I’d like to keep, I don’t know, 20 percent, 50 percent, or 80 percent of my chemical weapons capability,’ you would have refused, and correctly so.”