Report: Former US officials urge Obama for diplomacy with Iran

Twenty-nine ex-policymakers: Pursue negotiations with the Islamic Republic once Rouhani takes office.

July 16, 2013 10:47
2 minute read.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani [file].

Hassan Rohani 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi RH/CJF/AA)

Former US officials urged US President Barack Obama late on Monday to take advantage of the window of opportunity presented by the election of incoming Iranian president Hassan Rouhani to pursue diplomacy with the Islamic Republic, AFP reported.

Twenty-nine ex-policymakers signed a letter to Obama pushing for the US administration to employ leveraged sanctions against Iran in return for concessions once Rouhani takes office in early August.  

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The call came after Prime Minister Binaymin Netanyahu issued a rhetorical offensive against Iran on Sunday stemming from the concern that regional turmoil and Rouhani's election have sidelined attention from Iran's nuclear program.

"We strongly encourage your administration to seize the moment to pursue new multilateral and bilateral negotiations with Iran once Rouhani takes office and to avoid any provocative action that could narrow the window of opportunity for a more moderate policy out of Tehran," AFP quoted the ex-policymakers as saying in the letter to Obama.

The former US officials said Rouhani's election "presents a major potential opportunity."

Netanyahu, meanwhile, told an American audience on CBS News’s Face the Nation that regarding the 20% enriched uranium, the Islamic Republic was just 60 kilograms short of crossing his “red line.”

Netanyahu said the Iranians were building “faster centrifuges that would enable them to jump the line at a much faster rate. That is, within a few weeks.”

Asked when he would make a decision to attack, Netanyahu responded: “I can tell you I won’t wait until it’s too late.” He added that it was “important to understand that we cannot allow it to happen,” and that the Israeli and US clocks on this matter were “ticking at a different pace.”

“We’re more vulnerable. And therefore, we’ll have to address this question of how to stop Iran, perhaps before the United States does. But as the prime minister of Israel, I’m determined to do whatever is necessary to defend my country, the one and only Jewish state, from a regime that threatens us with renewed annihilation.”

“Israel should have attacked Iran yesterday – every day that goes by puts Israel in greater danger, every day Iran makes more progress,” John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Monday.

“I can understand why Israel wants us to take action, but the longer Israel waits for something that is not going to happen, the greater the danger Israel is in,” the senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute said.

Herb Keinon and Ariel Ben Solomon contributed to this report.

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