US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's comment Sunday that the US is "not setting deadlines" for Iran could have the effect of putting the Islamic Republic at ease, an Israeli government official said Monday night.
"Without a clear red line Iran will not cease its race toward a nuclear weapon," said the official, commenting on Clinton's comments in an interview with Bloomberg Radio Sunday evening.
"These sort of statements will not stop Iran's centrifuges from spinning, unfortunately the opposite could be true," the official said. "This won't deter Iran, but could put it at ease."
In her comments Sunday, Clinton asserted the US is “not setting deadlines” for Iran and still considers negotiations as “by far the best approach” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
While Clinton said in an interview that economic sanctions are building pressure on Iran, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said last week the sanctions aren’t slowing Iran’s nuclear advances “because it doesn’t see a clear red line from the international community.”
While the US and Israel share the goal that Iran not acquire a nuclear weapon, Clinton said there is a difference in perspective over the time horizon 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,” Clinton 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.”
Asked about pressure from Israel to give Iran an ultimatum to dismantle disputed aspects of its nuclear program within months, Clinton said the US has “always said every option was on the table, but we believe in the negotiation,” and are at the same time stepping up pressure from sanctions.
Asked what Israel was telling the Obama administration behind closed doors, Clinton said, “I don’t think that there’s any difference in their public and their private concerns.”
“They feel that it would be an existential threat if Iran were a nuclear-weaponized state, and no nation can abdicate their self-defense if they feel that they’re facing such a threat,” she said.