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Israeli minister optimistic Western pressure can deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons


File - In this June 27, 2013 file photo, an Israeli Air Force Boeing 707 refuels three F15I fighter jets during an acrobatics display during a graduation ceremony in the Hatzerim air force base near the southern city of Beersheba, Israel. In an apparent message to Iran, the Israeli military said Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, it had carried out a “special long-range flight exercise”. The military said its squadrons practiced refueling planes in midair this week and tested the air force’s ability. The accompanying footage shows a tanker plane refueling a fighter jet midair, a key part of any long-range operation. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File) (The Associated Press)

The Israeli minister responsible for monitoring Iran's nuclear program says stiff Western pressure can deter the Islamic Republic from pursuing atomic weapons.

Yuval Steinitz says if the Iranians are presented with a real choice between the well-being of their economy and the continued enrichment of uranium, they may abandon their nuclear ambitions.

Steinitz's comments Monday came a day before world powers were to renew talks with Iran aimed at ending a decade of deadlock. Steinitz offered a rare window of optimism from Israel, which considers a nuclear-armed Iran to be an existential threat. It has repeatedly threatened a military strike to stop Iran's progress.

Steinitz told reporters that Iran needs an agreement to save its faltering economy, and talks in Geneva offered perhaps the last opportunity for a diplomatic solution.