JERUSALEM, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday voiced his concern that Iran would become a nuclear threshold state amid its current round of talks with the P5+1 countries in Geneva, according to a statement by the prime minister's office.
Netanyahu made the comments in the weekly Cabinet meeting. In the past two weeks, Netanyahu reiterated his hard-line stance against the Iranian nuclear program, amid the world powers' recent round of talks with Iran which started last week, striving for a permanent agreement.
"I am concerned about the fact that Iran believes it will actualize its (nuclear) program and become a nuclear threshold state with enrichment abilities that won't be touched," Netanyahu said, according to the statement.
"The combination of enrichment, weapons and launching abilities means that Iran is getting everything without giving practically anything. A permanent agreement must not perpetuate this situation, " he added.
"Iran must be rid of its ability to create or launch nuclear weapons. This has yet to be accomplished and without the insistence of the (P5+1) powers, it will not be accomplished. I hope that the states will stand firmly with the real demands of stopping Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state," he said.
Netanyahu talked about the upcoming visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will be in Israel on Monday and Tuesday. Germany is one of the P5+1 countries (alongside the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China) and Netanyahu said he will discuss the Iranian nuclear issue with Merkel during her visit, alongside the peace talks with the Palestinians.
The statements are also made amid a visit by U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, who heads the U.S. talks with Iran. Sherman, who arrived in Israel over the weekend, said late Saturday night to Israeli media that a final agreement with Iran would strive to maintain "a limited, constrained, monitored and verified" enrichment program for non-military purposes.
Netanyahu has marked his battle against a nuclear Iran one of the key components on his agenda, calling the interim agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran in November a "historic mistake" and stressing that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat to Israel.
He had tried to campaign against the easing of the financial sanctions on Iran until it halts all its uranium enrichment and removes its enrichment centrifuges.
Netanyahu's campaign against Iran was criticized in Israel by center-left politicians, claiming Netanyahu is trying to divert the public's attention from the socio-economic situation by using scaring tactics.
Iran, on its part, insists that its nuclear plan is made for peaceful purposes alone and criticized Netanyahu's attempts to interfere with the diplomatic contacts between Iran and the P5+1 countries.