Washington, May 18 - Israeli leaders doubt that talks in Baghdad next week will succeed in persuading Iran to halt its illegal nuclear weapons program.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Prague to meet CzechPresident Vaclav Klaus, said that the Islamic Republic’s leaders are playing a “chess game” with international negotiators while Defense Minister Ehud Barak called any deal that allows Iran to continue uranium enrichment even in partial form “ridiculous.”
“I have to say I see no evidence whatsoever that Iran is serious about ending its nuclear program," Netanyahu said.
The P5+1 group, which includes five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany are preparing for a May 23 meeting with Iran in Baghdad. In mid-April, diplomats met in Istanbul, Turkey, to discuss the issue, with Iran agreeing to return to further talks a month later.
Netanyahu said Iran was seeking to "buy time, pretty much as North Korea did for years," going "from meeting to meeting with empty promises."
"Iran is very good in playing this chess game," he added.
Barak echoed that doubt in an interview on CNN. The defense Minister said he expected Western envoys "to set the bar at a place where it becomes clear that at least, in however long it takes to reach there, block Iran from turning militarily nuclear."
“There is a need to stop enriching uranium, to 20 percent, or even 3.5 percent," Barak said, who then called for a deal "to take all the enriched uranium out of the country."
Barak was in Washington for consultations with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top military officials.