Unnamed Israeli officials on Monday complained about US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent statement that the United States is “not setting deadlines” for negotiations with Iran.
“We’re not setting deadlines” on Iran, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Bloomberg News’ Indira Lakshmanan in an interview in Vladivostock, Russia Sunday.
“We have always said every option was on the table, but we believe in the negotiation, the diplomatic effort through the P-5+1, but also pressure …[are] by far, the best approach to take at this time,” Clinton said, according to a full transcript of the interview released by the State Department.
Clinton’s comments came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Canada’s CBC that the United States and Israel are jointly discussing “red lines” on Iran.
“We’re discussing it right now with the United States,” Netanyahu told the CBC Sunday, Reuters reported.
Unnamed Israeli officials were quick to blast Clinton’s disavowal of a rapidly closing timetable for Iran diplomatic efforts.
“These kinds of statements won’t stop Iran’s centrifuges, and could have the opposite effect,” one unnamed top Israeli state official told Ynet’s Attila Somfalvi Monday. “Without a clear red line, Iran won’t stop its race towards a nuclear weapon,” the Israeli official added.
But the State Department did not back away from the remarks Monday despite the grumbling from Jerusalem.
President Barack Obama “has said unequivocally he will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon,” but the idea of deadlines is “not useful,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told journalists at the State Department Monday, Ynet reported.
“So, you know, we are absolutely firm about the president’s commitment here, but it is not useful to be parsing it, to be setting deadlines one way or the other, red lines,” Nuland said.
Clinton and chief international negotiator Catherine Ashton have both indicated in the past two days that senior diplomats from the P5+1 will confer on Iran on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly opening session activities later this month.
“The efforts that the P-5+1 have made to pin Iran down on what exactly they are willing to do are still underway, and we will be having some meetings in the next month in New York and elsewhere to take stock of where we are,” Clinton told Lakshmanan.
Israeli officials last month sharply complained about comments by the top US military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, who said Israel couldn’t destroy Iran’s nuclear program, and he did not want to be complicit in a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran.
Netanyahu also went off on a tirade against the US administration in a meeting with a senior US lawmaker and the US ambassador to Israel last month, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) has confirmed.
But since then, the tension in US-Israeli relations over Iran has seemed to ease up a bit. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was cited in Israeli media reports last week that he thinks any talk of a unilateral strike on Iran should wait until after the US presidential elections, November 6.
(Photo: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) gestures during his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Jerusalem July 16, 2012. REUTERS/Abir Sultan/Pool.)