The US State Department said yesterday that setting ‘red lines’ on Iran’s nuclear programme is unhelpful, following a statement Sunday from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that said Washington is ‘not setting deadlines’.
Noting US President Barack Obama’s pledge not to allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, ‘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.’ Washington places precedence on applying pressure on Tehran and engaging it diplomatically, all the while conducting ‘intensive consultations with Israel,’ she added.
On Sunday, Clinton raised eyebrows in Jerusalem by stating that the US was ‘not setting deadlines’ for Iran and still considered negotiations as ‘by far the best approach’ to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Clinton, in her interview, also said there were clear differences between Israel and the US regarding the timeline 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,’ she 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.’ She also noted that sanctions ‘are having an effect’ and that the world powers involved in negotiating with Iran will be meeting over the next month to ‘take stock of where we are.’
In related news, according to a report in Haaretz, a special envoy from the British government two weeks ago came to Israel on a secret visit for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak.
According to an Israeli source cited in the report, the high-ranking visitor delivered a stern message from Prime Minister David Cameron against an uncoordinated Israeli strike on Iran at this time.
The Haaretz report added that, during his visit, the British envoy met with a number of Israeli security and diplomatic officials and stressed that Britain believes there is still time for diplomatic pressure to work, and that the economic and diplomatic sanctions against Iran ought to be given more time and widened.
Israel and Britain cooperate closely on the Iran issue in the intelligence and diplomatic spheres. Britain briefed Israel in full on the negotiations between the six world powers and Iran, the last of which took place in June.