US Rejects Netanyahu’s Demand to Stretch Timeline for Iran’s Accession to Nuclear Threshold

Exceptional secrecy surrounded the talks US National Security Adviser Susan Rice held with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu May 7-8 in Jerusalem. Neither released a word on their content, either jointly or separately. A week after the event, DEBKA Weekly sources are able to reveal exclusively what passed between the US visitor and her Israeli host in those conversations.
The US official led off with data for refuting the prime minister’s contention that the partial easing of sanctions on Iran would bring the entire sanctions edifice tumbling down.
According to Rice’s figures, the stampede of Western companies and officials to Tehran after the interim Joint Plan of Action was signed in November 2013 produced very little business. Hardly any collaboration deals or business contracts were signed and those that were, have not taken off. Furthermore, the level of Iran’s oil exports has remained at a low 1-1.2 billion barrels per day, with no sign of an increase in the near future.
Rice also told the Israeli prime minister that Iran hasn’t used even half of the total $4.8 billion frozen Iranian funds that the administration has so far released, including the last $1 billion unfrozen in late April. The bulk of these assets has not been withdrawn from US banks, according to the US national security advisor.

Rice and Netanyahu disagree on time lag to nuclear threshold

But the real nub of the conversation, according to DEBKA Weekly’s ears on the ground in Washington and Jerusalem, was the most acutely divisive question of how far Iran will be permitted to develop its nuclear capability – or, in other words, the timeline from a decision by Tehran to build a bomb to its completion.
Netanyahu has repeatedly emphasized that Israel won’t agree to Iran becoming “a nuclear threshold state” – most recently on May 13 in Tokyo.
But when he talked privately with Rice, he gave some ground on this point.
Attempting to meet Netanyahu half way on the time frame issue, she described the Obama administration as sparing no effort to ensure that the final agreement will guarantee a one-year lag from the moment Iran decides to build a bomb to actualization. Netanyahu said this was dangerously short and pressed instead for a period of three to four years.
The Obama administration will continue to look for other ways to extend this timeline, Rice promised.

Netanyahu wants further limitations on Iran’s ICBMs

The two sides then turned to another hot issue, the number and type of centrifuges Iran will be allowed to keep and operate, and the quantity of uranium it will be permitted to enrich.
Their conversation became more heated when Netanyahu challenged the Obama administration’s recent request for Iran to discuss its ICBM missiles. Why, he asked, did the US stipulation refer only to ballistic missiles able to put the US and Europe in range? What of the missiles capable of striking regional targets such as Israel and Saudi Arabia?
Without spelling this out, the prime minister was in fact implicitly questioning the credibility of the US guarantee for Israel’s security while leaving it exposed to Iranian missiles.
Rice promised to look into this question and have a reply ready shortly.
Rice shot down an Israeli call to expand the nuclear file to include Iran’s reprehensible policies in the region, such as its belligerent intervention in the Syrian civil war and backing for the Hizballah terrorist group.
She said very firmly that neither US-Iranian exchanges nor the Six-Power talks with Iran would be broadened beyond the nuclear ambit.
This wrapped up the exchanges the US National Security Adviser held with the Israeli prime minister after marking out the amount of ground covered and defining their areas of disagreement.

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