Senior Israeli Official Lays Out Acceptable Iran Nuke Agreement

The contents of a deal that would satisfy Israel show distance between Tel Aviv and Tehran.

By + More
World powers negotiators arrive at the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq. Negotiators from the U.S. and five other world powers sat down with a team of Iranian diplomats to try to hammer out specific goals in the years-long impasse over Tehran's nuclear program.

A senior Israeli official laid out the terms Tel Aviv would accept in a deal to curtail Iran's nuclear bomb ambitions.

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, speaking at a forum in Washington, described the steps Iran must take to appease hawkish Israeli officials who want to unleash a military strike on Tehran's nuclear facilities this year.

[Read: In Iran Talks, Both Sides Waiting for Other to Blink]

Iran would have to agree to cease all enrichment of uranium, give up all its enrichment equipment, and also "remove all underground facilities," Mofaz said.

It is unlikely Iranian leaders will accept the terms.

The Kadima Party leader's proposal on enrichment is even stricter than one put forth during talks with Western nations last month during talks in Baghdad. Iran rejected that plan.

The Obama administration and its allies have been moving forward with a strategy to convince Iran to stop its nuclear arms effort by implementing ever-tougher sanctions. Administration officials and experts say those measures are having an impact, and have made Tehran more serious in ongoing talks with the Western powers.

[Debate Club: Should the U.S. Discourage Israel From Attacking Iran?]

Tougher sanctions, including ones on its oil industry by Europe, will be fully implemented in early July.

But the sanctions-based approach, coupled with monthly talks like those this week in Moscow, constitute a long-term plan. Israeli officials, GOP American lawmakers and Middle East experts warn this allows Iran to buy time to continue work on its atomic arms.

Will Tel Aviv wait for President Obama's long game to play out?

"There is no way Israel will accept a nuclear Iran," Mofaz said. "If Iran becomes nuclear, it will become a different world."

"Just because you have tougher sanctions doesn't mean we have four or five months," Mofaz added. "We have limited time."

John T. Bennett covers national security and foreign policy for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact him at or follow him on Twitter.

  • See a collection of political cartoons on Iran
  • Read: Three Killed in Deadly Clash at Egypt-Israel Border
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy