Israel is concerned about the shape of an international agreement with Iran over its nuclear aspirations, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday night after talks with his American counterpart Chuck Hagel in Washington DC.
"The Iranian issue indeed worries us," said Ya'alon in a Hebrew audio message released by his office after the meeting with Hagel at the Pentagon. "The question of if there will be an agreement and what kind of agreement worries us. I'm talking about that here and behind closed doors we express our concerns."
"We've said all along that better no agreement than a bad agreement and the question is what are they discussing at the moment, are they talking about how many centrifuges there will be and if so, why should they have centrifuges at all?" Ya'alon said.
"Are they talking about other elements of the Iranian military nuclear project such as missiles ready for nuclear warheads?"
Ya'alon said he and Hagel had also talked about the conflicts in Iraq and Syria and the US-Israel defense partnership. Between Israel and the United States, he said, "arguments exist, but we must remember that the US is Israel's most important strategic ally in every respect."
The defense minister slammed Turkey over its reluctant participation in US-led efforts to fight the Islamic State as well as its support for Hamas, which is branded by Israel, the EU and US as a terrorist group.
"Turkey is playing a cynical game," Ya'alon said. "Hamas is supported by Turkey and Qatar, and has two military headquarters – in Gaza and Istanbul. Hamas transferred its military headquarters from Damascus to Istanbul, where it is represented by Saleh al-Arouri, who orchestrates terror attacks against Israel and attempts to incite a coup against Mahmoud Abbas in Judea and Samaria."
Expert-level talks between Iran and world powers are to be held in Vienna on Wednesday and Thursday, according to an Iranian official.
Iran and the P5+1 group of nations -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany -- are seeking a comprehensive agreement over Tehran's nuclear program by a November 24 deadline.
But the talks have been hit by disputes over what limits should be placed on Iran's atomic activities, particularly its enrichment of uranium, and on the process of lifting US, UN and European sanctions.
In an October 1 meeting at the White House, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned US President Barack Obama not to accept any Iran deal that would allow Tehran to become a "threshold nuclear power".
The same week in New York, Netanyahu told the United Nations that Iran was trying to "bamboozle" the world into sealing a nuclear deal that would leave Tehran with the capacity of thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium.
The nuclear threshold is the point at which a nation is considered to have the radioactive material, equipment and know-how to quickly produce a nuclear device, but has not yet taken the decision to do so.