Tuesday, September 11, 2012

US and Israel clocks on Iran are ticking at different paces

From the TIMES OF ISRAEL, September 10, 2012, by RON FRIEDMAN and STAFF:
The US will not set deadlines for Iran and still considers negotiations and sanctions the best way to halt it from developing nuclear weapons, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday.
The comments were sure to disappoint Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week welcomed reports that the US was considering setting out “red lines” which, if crossed by Iran, would trigger US military action.
...Clinton told Bloomberg, “We’re not setting deadlines.”
“We’re watching very carefully about what they do, because it’s always been more about their actions than their words,” Clinton said in an interview following visits to China and Russia, where she spoke with leaders of both countries to seek cooperation on Iran.
Clinton said China and Russia share the US’s view that Iran must be stopped from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
...Last week, after the New York Times reported that the administration was considering setting out certain red lines that, if crossed by Iran in its nuclear drive, would trigger a resort to military force, Netanyahu welcomed the idea. “The greater the resolve and the clearer the red line, the less likely we’ll have conflict,” he said.
A report on Israel’s Channel 10 news last week went so far as to assert that Israel would not attack Iran this year if President Barack Obama sets out his “red lines” and offers certain other promised assurances to Netanyahu at a meeting between the two tentatively scheduled for Thursday, September 27... when Netanyahu will be in New York to address the UN General Assembly.
...US ...Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ...met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv on Thursday. After their talks, Barak said the US and Israel “face the same challenge [on Iran] but the clocks are ticking at different paces.” He said “Israel reserves the right to make sovereign decisions. The US respects this. Israel and Israel alone will take the decisions that affect its future and its security.”
Clinton [said] that while the two countries share the goal that Iran not acquire a nuclear weapon, there is a difference in perspective with the Israelis over the time horizon for talks.
“They’re more anxious about a quick response because they feel that they’re right in the bull’s-eye, so to speak,” Clinton said. “But we’re convinced that we have more time to focus on these sanctions, to do everything we can to bring Iran to a good-faith negotiation.”
...“They feel that it would be an existential threat if Iran were a nuclear-weaponized state, and no nation can abdicate their self-defense if they feel that they’re facing such a threat,” she said.
At the same time, Clinton said Israel has supported the Obama administration’s effort to unite the international community behind the toughest sanctions ever....
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