Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Uranium Deal Reverberates In Jerusalem

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - The uranium enrichment deal signed between Iran, Turkey and Brazil has caused concern in Jerusalem.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened scheduled an emergency meeting of the forum of seven to discuss the Israeli response to the agreement.

Israel’s Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer warned that “we must look carefully at Iran’s actions. We have already seen how Ahmadinejad can fool the world.”

Israeli officials are worried by the fact that Iran appears to have succeeded in postponing the threat of international sanctions against it by at least several months.

Another concern relates to Israel’s ties with Turkey.

Israeli officials said that the Turkish rapprochement with Iran could harm the Israeli-Turkish relations, and added that advanced technologies given to Turkey by Israel were liable to leak into the hands of the Iranians.

Netanyahu’s advisers are also expected to discuss the matter with the Americans over the next several days in order to examine how it could influence the region and the strategy for dealing with the Iranian nuclear program.

It is believed that the visit of George Mitchell, the U.S.’s special envoy to the Middle East, will focus mainly on Iran. It is likely that Dennis Ross, the president’s special adviser for dealing with the Iranian nuclear program, will also be arriving after the festival of Shavuot.

“The Iranians are tricking everybody,” political sources in the Israeli government are saying.

Israel Fears Deterioration Of Relations With Turkey

The many smiles seen yesterday in Tehran after the signing of the agreement for enriching Iranian uranium in Turkey did not elicit smiling reactions from the representatives of the Western powers.

In Israel, political officials said yesterday that the Turkish administration seems to have gone out of its way to assist the Iranians to extricate themselves from the sanctions. If it should become apparent that it was Turkey that saved Iran from the noose of the Security Council, this will cause a problem for it with Israel, in the spirit of “someone who helps my enemy cannot be my friend.” In addition, the concern was voiced that security knowledge and advanced technologies that Israel has transferred to Turkey could leak from Istanbul to Tehran, and it would appear that the Turks have lost their chance to return to mediating between Israel and Syria. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the cabinet ministers not to speak out on the matter of the Turkish proposal,” said Nir Hefetz, head of the National Information Directorate. “Israel’s response will be given at a later date.”

Israel Defense Forces Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Benny Ganz defined the Iranian nuclear issue as an international problem that could accelerate the arms race in the entire region. “There is not a single negative thing that I am unable to link to Iran, and the ties between Iran, Hezbollah and Syria create a sensitive reality that is liable to develop further,” he said at a conference sponsored by the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “Israel can’t remain in the position of the victim, and we can’t afford to refrain from protecting our citizens.”

See this report in the Philadelphia Bulletin
See this report at Israel Behind the News

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