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Israel says time for 'firmer stand' on Iran

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Israel said it was time for world powers to adopt a "firmer stand" with Iran on its controversial nuclear programme after their latest round of negotiations closed on Saturday without any breakthrough.

"It is time for the world to take a firmer stand and tell the Iranians in no uncertain terms that the masquerade of negotiations is about to end," Strategic Affairs and Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said.

"Israel has already warned that the Iranians are using the rounds of negotiations to win time to advance their uranium enrichment to the stage of acquiring a nuclear weapon," he said.

"Without a tangible and significant threat, together with a short, clear and definitive timetable, it will not be possible to dismantle the nuclear programme," the minister said.

Iran and world powers at talks in the Kazakh city of Almaty failed to break the deadlock in the crisis over Tehran's nuclear drive, with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton saying the positions were still "far apart".

Ashton represented the world powers -- comprised of the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany -- as chief negotiator at the negotiations on Friday and Saturday.

The clock is running down on diplomacy to solve the crisis, with Iran's arch foe Israel refusing to rule out air strikes against the Islamic republic to halt its nuclear drive.

Iran denies charges is developing the atomic bomb and argues that it requires a nuclear programme solely for peaceful purposes.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130406/israel-says-time-firmer-stand-iran