Israel skeptical on Syria giving up chemical arms

AP , Tuesday 10 Sep 2013

Lieberman accuses Syria of 'buying time' using Russia's proposal on chemical weapons; Iranian president declares Iran 'will not give up one iota' of its nuclear rights

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during a convention of his Yisrael Beiteinu Party in Jerusalem (Photo: Reuters)

Senior Israeli politicians have voiced skepticism about Russia's proposal for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons to international control.

Avigdor Lieberman, who chairs the parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee, told Israel Radio on Tuesday that Syria could use the proposal to "buy time."

He says Syrian President Bashar "Assad is winning time and lots of it."

Lieberman, an ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says Israel doesn't have details of the Russian offer and that the logistics of a weapons transfer are unclear.

President Shimon Peres warned on Monday that negotiations over a weapons transfer would be "tough" and that Syria is "not trustworthy."

Lieberman says Syria is likely stalling, as Iran allegedly did during early nuclear negotiations when faced with an offer to transfer enriched uranium stockpiles abroad.

Meanwhile, Iran "will not give up one iota" of its nuclear rights, Iranian President Hassan Rowhani said on Tuesday in a speech to clerics, Mehr news agency reported.

"Our government will not give up one iota of its absolute rights" on the nuclear issue, Rowhani said.

His comments come ahead of a meeting in New York later in the month between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on restarting negotiations over Iran's contested nuclear program.

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