x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Obama, Netanyahu discuss Iran, Palestinian peace

Iran's nuclear capacity and Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts on the agenda.

WASHINGTON // US President Barack Obama spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Iran on Monday, a day after the Israeli leader warned Tehran could convert uranium into weapons-grade material within weeks.

The White House said in a short statement that the leaders discussed Iran, Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and other key issues.

Netanyahu warned on Sunday that Iran is capable of converting low-grade uranium to material suitable for use in a weapons program with weeks – even as Washington pursues diplomatic efforts to ease the nuclear showdown.

“The important part stems from technological improvements which allow Iran to enrich uranium from 3.5 per cent to 90 per cent in a number of weeks,” his office quoted him as saying at a cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu is demanding increased pressure on Iran and has expressed skepticism about a diplomatic opening pioneered by new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani which he has called a “charm offensive.”

Iran is to hold a new round of talks on the issue with six world powers in Geneva on November 7 and 8.

Israel is demanding four conditions before international sanctions on Iran are eased: a halt to all uranium enrichment; the removal of all enriched uranium from its territory; the closure of an underground nuclear facility in Qom; and a halt to construction of a plutonium reactor.

The Obama administration has said it is important to test the sincerity of Iran’s promise to hold serious discussions on a nuclear program that the West says is geared towards producing weapons – a charge Tehran denies.

* Agence France-Presse