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Netanyahu: Iran's 'Zero Breakout' Sooner than Later


JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Iran's breakout time for nuclear weapons production begins when the framework agreement is finalized, not in 13 or 14 years as President Barack Obama said Tuesday.

"So essentially, we're purchasing 13, 14, 15 years assurances that the breakout is at least a year -- that -- that if they decided to break the deal, kick out all the inspectors, break the seals and go for a bomb, we'd have over a year to respond," the president told NPR.

"What is a more relevant fear would be that in year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that can enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero," Obama said.

In a videotaped statement aired on Israeli media, Netanyahu said he agrees with the president that breakout time will be zero when the deal expires. But that's not, he says, more than a decade away.

Netanyahu said again he's not opposed to a deal with Iran, just a bad deal -- one that allows Iran to achieve "industrial-grade capability in producing nuclear bombs."

Iran desperately wants relief from economic sanctions, which have had a profound effect on its economy. The sanctions provide the leverage to try to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons aspirations.

But Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said they won't agree to a gradual phasing out of sanctions.

"We will not sign any deal unless all sanctions are lifted on the same day," Reuters quoted Rouhani in a televised speech aired Thursday. "We want a win-win deal for all parties involved in the nuclear talks."

Meanwhile, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters the United States does not intend to comply with that demand.

"You can't start talking about relieving sanctions until we've reached agreements about how we're going to shut down every pathway they have to a nuclear weapon," Earnest said.

The framework agreement, however, does allow Iran to continue enriching uranium, moving it steadily toward nuclear weapons capability. Coupled with missile production, threats to Israel and state sponsorship of terrorism, producing weapons-grade uranium may be much closer than world powers care to admit.

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