Report: In Moscow, Netanyahu Asks Putin to Take Lead From Obama in Iran Negotiations
by Joshua Levitt
On a state visit to Moscow Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to assert himself over U.S. President Barack Obama as the main peacekeeper in the Iranian nuclear negotiations, just as Putin did over the chemical weapons in Syria, according to a report on Thursday in Russia’s Kommersant that cited unnamed diplomatic sources.
Kommersant said the deal on the table today from the world powers in Geneva stipulates a six-month suspension of work on Iran’s nuclear facilities, in exchange for releasing $3 billion of frozen assets in international banks and a reduction in sanctions that would provide Tehran with an another $10 billion.
The newspaper cited a source close to the Israeli government as saying, “Netanyahu understands that the deal, insisted on by the United States, will be concluded,” and he sees no way to influence Washington any further in the matter.
“The looming agreement with Iran would have been acceptable two years ago, but not now,” a source close to Netanyahu told Kommersant. “Sometimes a bad agreement is worse than none. North Korea, for example, turned out to acquire nuclear weapons within a month after a written contract” was signed, saying that they wouldn’t.
Its sources said Netanyahu’s goal in the visit to Moscow was to convince the Russian leadership to achieve the maximum possible from Tehran with real concessions formalized in a binding agreement.
“We hope that Russia, as a key member of the negotiating process in Geneva, will be able to change the situation,” the Israeli diplomatic source said, adding that the key concession would be to get tougher control over Iranian nuclear facilities and opportunities to peer within the “secrets of the enterprise.” Iran has said it would not allow full transparency in terms of inspections to its nuclear facilities.
Benny Briskin, director of the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC) and an adviser to Netanyahu for a decade, told Kommersant, “Moscow has well-developed links with Iran, as well as economic instruments that remain, despite international sanctions.”
“Slurred international policies from Barack Obama opens up new opportunities for the Kremlin to beat the U.S. in the diplomatic field,” Briskin said. “In Syria, Russia has won in every way, in the case of Iran, it also has the motivation to be in the forefront of addressing the serious global problems.”