Speaking to his cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "Iran is willing to give up uranium enrichment to 20 percent and therfore discussion of this subject is irrelevant."
Netanyahu added that "the importance of the subject has become redundant following technological improvements that allow Iran to enrich uranium from 3.5% to 90% within a few weeks. We have to increase the pressure on Iran because it continues to enrich uranium even while it negotiates."
On Saturday, Israel had dismissed as "irrelevant" reports that Iran had halted its most sensitive uranium enrichment activity, and said Tehran's nuclear program must be dismantled.
A senior member of Iran's parliamentary national security commission was quoted as saying Iran had stopped refining uranium above the 5% required for civilian power stations, as it already had all the 20% enriched fuel it needed for a medical research reactor in Tehran.
This claim, however, was contradicted by Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee. Lending credence to the Israeli assessment, Boroujerdi told Iran's state-run news agency IRNA on Saturday that "enrichment to 20% is continuing."
Diplomats accredited to the U.N. nuclear watchdog said they had no confirmation Iran had halted enrichment of uranium to 20% -- a sensitive issue because it is a relatively short technical step to increase that to the 90% needed to make a nuclear warhead.
"The discussion on whether or not Iran has ceased 20% enrichment is irrelevant," an Israeli official said.
"Even if Iran stopped 20% enrichment, it is still equipped with advanced centrifuges that allow it to go from a level of 3.5% enrichment to a military grade 90% within a few weeks," the official added.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon commented Sunday on the recent Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) report regarding Iran's nuclear progress, saying that Israel will not sit idly by as Iran develops nuclear weapons.
"We have made it crystal clear -- in all possible forums, that Israel will not stand by and watch Iran develop weaponry that will put us, the entire Middle East and eventually the world, under an Iranian umbrella of terror," Danon told USA Today.
"This speedy enrichment capability will make timely detection and effective response to an Iranian nuclear breakout increasingly difficult," he said.
According to Israel Radio, Danon labeled the recent ISIS report as one that could be used as another justification for a possible Israeli strike in Iran, before it has the chance to accumulate enough enriched uranium to produce a nuclear bomb.
World powers seeking a diplomatic solution to the nuclear dispute with Iran want it to stop enrichment. Iran indicated in talks that resumed in Geneva last week that it might scale back its program to win sanctions relief.
Israel, believed to be the Middle East's only atomic power, says Iran must be stripped of enrichment capabilities.
"The international community must ensure the complete dismantling of the Iranian military nuclear program, and until then sanctions must be stepped up," said the Israeli official.
Western officials have said Iran must stop enriching uranium to 20%, increase the transparency of its nuclear program, reduce its uranium stocks and take other steps to reassure the world that it is not after nuclear weapons.
Iran and six world powers -- the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany -- said that this month's talks in Geneva were positive and constructive. Negotiations are due to resume there on November 7-8.
The meeting was the first since Iranian President Hasan Rouhani came to office in August, promising to try to resolve the nuclear dispute and secure an easing of sanctions that have severely damaged Iran's oil-dependent economy.