By Barak Ravid | Jun.18, 2013 | 8:40 PM
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel will not accept Iranian uranium enrichment at any level.
"We cannot accept anything less than the total cessation of all enrichment of nuclear materials at all levels, removal from Iran of all enriched nuclear material, closure of Iran's illicit nuclear facilities," Netanyahu said during a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.
"Until Iran meets these demands, pressure must be stepped up and Iranian nuclear program must be stopped. Period."
Netanyahu warned against the new Iranian President Hasan Rowhani, saying that his strategy is to calm the international community while quietly advancing the nuclear program.
"He is the author of a document – you could call it talk and enrich - that is, talk and continue to enrich uranium. For nuclear weapons. He wrote this in the book. He said that by calming international community, Iran is able to steadily move forward in its nuclear weapons program. We cannot allow Iran to play this game. We cannot let Iran ride out the clock."
Netanyahu made the comments after several statements by the U.S. government and the European Union wishing to continue talks with Iran on its nuclear program. The talks between Iran and the six world powers stopped in April
Earlier Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Iran is willing to halt its 20 percent enrichment of uranium, which has been a key concession sought ininternational negotiations over Iran's nuclear program.
That is the highest level of enrichment acknowledged by Iran and one that experts say could be turned into warhead grade in a matter of months.
In an interview with the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA that was released by the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, Lavrov said that "for the first time in many years" there are encouraging signs in international efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear dispute.
He said Iran has confirmed that it is ready to halt production of uranium-enriched to 20 percent. He did not give details, but said the sextet of international negotiators should make "substantial reciprocal steps."
Meanwhile, on Monday the UN nuclear agency chief said Iran is making "steady progress" in expanding its nuclear program and international sanctions do not seem to be slowing it down.
Yukiya Amano's comments underlined the difficult challenges facing world powers in seeking to persuade the Islamic state to scale back nuclear activities they suspect could be used to make atomic bombs, a charge Tehran denies.
The surprise victory of moderate cleric Hasan Rowhani in Iran's presidential election last Friday has raised hopes for an easing of tension in the decade-old nuclear dispute.
Rowhani pledged on Monday to be more transparent about Tehran's atomic work in order to see sanctions lifted but he also said Iran was not ready to suspend its enrichment of uranium. "