PM to Ashton: Iran must halt all uranium enrichment

Netanyahu meets with EU foreign policy chief along with FM, Barak, and newly-minted Vice Premier Mofaz ahead of upcoming round of nuclear talks between the P5+1 and Tehran.


Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday told EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton that Iran must halt all uranium enrichment, after Iran preemptively rejected the EU’s own request to do so.

During the meeting, in which the prime minister and Ashton discussed the new round of upcoming talks between Western nations and Iran, Netanyahu also requested that Iran remove all enriched uranium currently in its territory, and cease work at the Fordow nuclear facility, which is located deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom.

Mofaz, Barak, Ashton, Netanyahu, Liberman -  Photo by GPO

Mofaz, Barak, Ashton, Netanyahu, Liberman - Photo by GPO

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and newly-minted Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz were also present at the meeting in Jerusalem.

Ashton is representing the P5+1, consisting of the US, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany, in the talks with Iran over its controversial nuclear program which are scheduled to begin May 23.

The EU told Iran on Monday it “must” suspend uranium enrichment, a few days after the Islamic state ruled out doing just that, as Tehran and the West engaged in diplomatic shadow-boxing ahead of the looming talks.

The United States called on Iran to take “urgent practical steps” to build confidence during negotiations with world powers on Tehran’s nuclear program, which Washington and its allies suspect is a bid to develop atomic bomb capability.

Iran, in turn, accused the US for supporting Israel’s atomic activities. The Jewish state is widely assumed to hold the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal.

Iran and the six major powers resumed discussions last month in Istanbul after a gap of more than a year – a chance to ease escalating tension and avert the threat of a new Middle East war – and both sides described the atmosphere as positive.


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Reuters contributed to this report