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Israel’s U.S. envoy: Inspectors won’t derail Iran nukes

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, derided an Iran nuclear deal that would rely on inspections as U.S. and Iranian officials had a rare meeting to advance such an agreement.

“The Iranian regime knows that inspectors will not stop them,” Dermer said Sunday in an address to the annual State of Israel Bonds banquet in Washington.

“They know if they keep their nuclear weapons-making capability intact, eventually they will develop the bomb. That is why the only thing that should be acceptable to the international community is one in which that capability is fully dismantled. Don’t count on inspectors to solve the problem for you.”

Obama administration officials have said repeatedly that a limited uranium enrichment capability policed by a tough inspections regime is the likely outcome of nuclear talks now underway.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected any outcome that allows continued enrichment, something Dermer reiterated in his speech. Netanyahu also has called for increased sanctions on Iran.

Dermer’s remarks come as William Burns, the deputy secretary of state, and Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary of state leading the U.S. side in the talks, met with their Iranian counterparts in Vienna.

Such a direct U.S.-Iran meeting, without representatives of the other major powers in the talks, is rare and reports have suggested that the sides are meeting because the July 20 deadline for a deal is looming. It is not clear if the sides are close to a deal or wish to exercise an option to extend talks for six months.

A top analyst for Israel’s military intelligence agency said it appeared as if Iran was negotiating seriously.

“It is very possible that Iran and the world powers that are negotiating with it are moving toward the signing, sometime during the year, of a permanent nuclear deal,” Brig. Gen. Itai Brun was quoted by Reuters as telling the annual Herzliya Conference near Tel Aviv. “In the meantime, Iran is abiding by the interim agreement and the pressures, mainly the economic crisis, are leading it toward a dialogue, which we regard as serious-minded, on a permanent agreement.”

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