International efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions continue to dominate the UK media this morning. The Daily Telegraph, Guardian and the Financial Times report that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised President Obama’s support for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear impasse. The Guardian reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed yesterday that war with Iran is not inevitable, but that only a credible military threat will deter Iran’s leaders. Reuters quotes US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who told the National Journal the US is preparing for military action against Iran. The Telegraph reports that the United States has offered to supply Israel with the military means of destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities, but only if it agrees to delay an attack until next year, according to an Israeli newspaper. The Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard note Prime Minister David Cameron’s meeting next week with US President Barack Obama and the leaders’ likely focus on Iran. The Evening Standard interviews former security minister Lord West who stresses the need to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue peacefully. The Economist analyses Iran’s ambiguous positions on its nuclear programme and concludes that ‘tough talk on both sides has masked quieter efforts to reach a compromise.’ The FT’s Philip Stephens criticises PM Netanyahu for ‘playing politics’ with the Iranian nuclear threat. The International Herald Tribune covers a demonstration held by Palestinian women north of Jerusalem yesterday to mark international Women’s Day.
The intense international attention to the Iranian nuclear issue also dominates the Israeli press. In a series of TV interviews yesterday, PM Netanyahu expressed his hope that international pressure will be enough to stop the Iranian nuclear programme. Israel Hayom quotes a high-ranking Israeli security official that said that as a result of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s trip to Washington, Israel was farther away today from an attack on Iran. The Jerusalem Post notes US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments that international sanctions against Iran are the ‘toughest ever’ and that there is still time for diplomacy to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions. On its front page, Yediot Ahronoth provides excerpts from a CBS interview with former Mossad director Meir Dagan, who contends that Israeli intelligence officials do not support an attack on Iran at this time. Israel Radio News reports that the White House denied yesterday that President Obama and PM Netanyahu discussed the delivery of bunker buster bombs during their meeting this week. Haaretz and Maariv publish new opinion polls that show steady and even growing support for Likud and a decline in support for Kadima. Maariv carries a front-page story on the stabbing of an IDF soldier during an operation to arrest a Palestinian terrorist released in the Shalit prisoner exchange deal. Ynet, meanwhile, reports that the US and Jordan are increasingly concerned about Syria’s arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, which could fall into the hands of terrorists in the region.