Israel urged Western powers on Wednesday not to give up economic sanctions on Iran until Tehran proves it is dismantling its nuclear program, believed by the U.S. and its allies to be aimed at developing atomic weapons.
The Israeli comments came after Western diplomats said Iran hinted during two days of nuclear negotiations in Geneva that it was ready to scale back sensitive atomic activities to secure relief from the crippling sanctions.
"Iran should be tested by its actions, not its proposals," a senior Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in a message sent from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office.
"Until substantive steps are carried out that prove that Iran is dismantling its military nuclear program, the international community must continue with its sanctions against it [Iran]," the official said.
The U.S. called the talks the most serious and candid to date, though a senior U.S. official said there had been no apparent narrowing of differences between Tehran and the six nations in the negotiations over its nuclear program. Follow-up talks have been scheduled for Nov. 7-8.
The U.S., Israel and other countries accuse Iran of using its nuclear program to develop the capability to produce weapons. Iran says the program is for peaceful energy purposes only. President Hasan Rouhani told the U.N. General Assembly last month that nuclear weapons "have no place in Iran's security and defense doctrine, and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions."
Israel, widely believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, insists that Iran must be forced to give up its enrichment of uranium. Netanyahu has said Israel will not accept Iran becoming a nuclear power and has hinted that his country may resort to unilateral military action to prevent this.