UK & World News

  • 30 June 2014, 3:45

Israeli PM Wants Syria-Type Deal Over Iran

Israel's Prime Minister has called on world powers to base a deal with Iran over its nuclear programme on the agreement that saw Syria's chemical weapons removed.

Benjamin Netanyahu told Sky News preventing Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb has taken on greater importance due to the turmoil in Iraq.

His comments precede the resumption of so-called P5+1 talks with Iran in Vienna later this week.

Negotiators from Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the US are seeking a deal to reduce the scope of the country's nuclear programme, in return for sanctions relief, by July 20.

Israel's leader said he believed the recent removal of the Syrian regime's chemical weapons stockpile was the minimum model negotiators should accept.

"A good deal is the one that was done in Syria", he said.

"The chemicals and the means to make the weapons were dismantled and removed. What Iran is seeking is to keep the materials and the means to make nuclear weapons, and just allow inspections.

"Keep and inspect, rather than dismantle and remove - that's the bad deal."

Mr Netanyahu also claimed the role played by Shi'ite militias backed by Iran in the growing unrest in Iraq and the conflict in Syria meant preventing the nuclear programme was more important than ever.

"I think we have to be clear that it would cross of line of history that would transcend anything else that we're seeing in the Middle East," he said.

"If one of these warring tribes ? in this case the militant Shi'ites backed by Iran, get their hands on nuclear weapons, the world will be forever changed."

Last week, David Cameron said the UK was engaging with Iran "with a very clear eye and a very hard heart".

However, diplomatic sources have told Sky News that their Israeli counterparts regularly make clear they believe the West is being "duped" by Iran.

Mr Netanyahu warned negotiators not to be deceived by what appears to be a more responsive and more cooperative approach being taken by the country's new president, Hassan Rouhani, who claims reaching a deal with the P5+1 by July 20 is possible.

"Iran is run by an unforgiving sect - it puts forward front men and smiling people like Rouhani, but it's governed with an iron hand and an iron heart by this man (Ayatollah) Ali Khameini", he added.

Ahead of the interview, Mr Netanyahu's office said he would not discuss tensions in the West Bank and Gaza following the apparent kidnapping of three young Israelis, which he blames on Hamas.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested and five killed in the West Bank during the search operation, prompting the UK and others to urge Israel show "restraint" and avoid further escalation.

But asked whether recent airstrikes in Gaza were the start of increased military action against Hamas, Mr Netanyahu said Israel was "trying to contain our efforts to the search" - but warned he was prepared  to "increase efforts accordingly" if further rockets were fired at Israel.

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