"Our frustration is that we feel Iran is on the verge of having to give up its nuclear production because of the economic sanctions, but it's like a boxing match": Naftali Bennett. Photo: Supplied
Israel has urged Australia to use its new found influence to force a much tougher deal on Iran over its nuclear program.
Israel's Minister for the Economy, Naftali Bennett, told Prime Minister Tony Abbott that Israel ''badly wants a deal'' to halt Iran's nuclear progress, Mr Bennett said.
Israel is deeply unhappy with the terms of the interim deal negotiated by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - the so-called P5 - plus Germany on November 24. ''Our frustration is that we feel Iran is on the verge of having to give up its nuclear production because of the economic sanctions, but it's like a boxing match - the referee is counting the guy down six, seven, eight, nine, then just when he's about to give up the program, we are giving him a cup of water,'' Mr Bennett said in an interview.
Deal is a "historic mistake": Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the deal a ''historic mistake'' that allows Iran to keep working towards a nuclear bomb while easing the sanctions pressure.
Australia can be an important factor in shaping the final deal, due in six months, Mr Bennett said, because it is a member of the UN Security Council next year and also the chairman of the council's sanctions committee on Iran.
Iran has agreed to freeze parts of its nuclear program and dilute its most highly concentrated uranium in return for a partial easing of the international sanctions that have forced it into recession.
Israel's essential demand is that Iran be forced to surrender its nuclear fuel-making machinery. Where the P5+1 deal has allowed Iran to keep its centrifuges for concentrating uranium into nuclear fuel, Israel wants them removed.
''Our objective is to dismantle effectively all their centrifuges so the time they need for a nuclear break-out [to produce a nuclear weapon] is not six weeks but three years,'' Mr Bennett said.
Iran has always insisted that its nuclear fuel is for peaceful purposes but the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency disagree.
Asked if he expected Australia to oppose the US over the Iran deal, Mr Bennett replied: ''I'm suggesting Australia be vocal about influencing this for the next six months - it's your responsibility now that you're on the UN Security Council. But I'm not suggesting Australia go against anyone. I'm suggesting you help steer the wheel.''