The possibility of a military conflict over Iran's nuclear program has significantly decreased, according to US officials and analysts, The New York Times reported Monday.
"While there isn't an agreement between the US and Israel on how much time, there is an agreement that there is time to give diplomacy a chance," Dennis Ross - until recently the top White House adviser on Iran - was quoted as saying. Ross added that the focus was now on negotiations, "which doesn't mean that the threat of using force is going away, but it lies behind the diplomacy."
The NY Times also quoted an Obama administration official as expressing the belief that "the temperature has cooled," while another remarked that the combination of diplomacy and pressure had offered a window.
Also Monday, an Iranian envoy voiced hope
that talks with the UN nuclear watchdog in mid-May would help resolve "outstanding issues", but he again ruled out any halt to Tehran's controversial uranium enrichment program.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Saturday it would resume discussions with Iran on May 14-15 - more than two months after the last meeting over concerns about Tehran's atomic activities ended in failure.
"We hope that this will be a very constructive and successful meeting," Iran's ambassador to the Vienna-based IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told Reuters.
"The main purpose is to negotiate on a modality and framework to resolve outstanding issues and remove ambiguities," he added, echoing language he and other Iranian officials have used before previous meetings that yielded no notable progress.
He suggested that only after such a "framework" for future cooperation had been agreed could Iran consider an IAEA request for access to a military site where the UN agency believes nuclear-related weapons research may have taken place.Reuters contributed to this report