US insists diplomacy has time amid Iran drumbeat in Israel
ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE: The United States Monday insisted it would not give up striving for a diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear standoff despite a rising drumbeat of war speculation in Israel.
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that Washington was committed to talks between world powers and Iran on its nuclear aspirations and believed there remained a window of time for them to work.
“We continue to believe there is time and space for diplomacy, the opportunity remains for Iran to take advantage of this process,” Carney told reporters on Air Force One.
In a possible reference to US conversations with the Netanyahu government, Carney said that Washington made clear to its “partners” that there was time to pursue a diplomatic course on a dual track with tightened sanctions.
“There is every reason to continue the P5 plus one talks while the time and space remains.”
The P5 plus one process groups the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany.
The dispute between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government on the state of Iran’s nuclear program has been repeatedly aired in coded statements from each side.
Israel wants to ensure Iran does not reach the “capability” to build nuclear weapons, in terms of the expertise, material and sufficient quantities of highly enriched uranium to do so.
Obama has stressed that his position, reinforced by Carney on Monday, is that he will stop Iran from “acquiring nuclear weapons” a step further down the path to developing an atomic arsenal than the Israeli red line.
Carney’s comments came as speculation in the Israeli press about a possible Israeli strike on Iran multiplied, with the Haaretz newspaper reporting that top Israeli officials believed time was fast approaching for a decision by the Netanyahu government.
His comments will further fan speculation of differences between President Barack Obama’s White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on the timing of any military strike on Iran.
Last week, in remarks seemingly aimed at Israel, the White House said it had “eyes” and “visibility” inside Iran’s nuclear program and would know if Tehran made a “breakout” towards a nuclear weapon.
Washington also indicated it had not changed its view that Iran was not yet on the verge of building a nuclear bomb, despite Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s statement that US intelligence now viewed the threat as more “urgent.”Breakout capability is commonly understood to be the point when a state acquires the knowledge, capability and materials to build a nuclear bomb if it wants to.
Iran denies that its nuclear program is geared towards producing nuclear weapons.