As Gen. Martin Dempsey, America’s senior military officer, arrived in Israel on
Thursday for talks on Iran, US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro said Washington and
Jerusalem were in complete coordination in efforts to prevent Tehran from
obtaining nuclear weapons.
Dempsey is to meet with Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and Defense Minister
US: Iran still has path to end nuclear dispute
EU: No new nuclear negotiation efforts with Iran
While speaking at an event in Haifa, Shapiro said the US and
Israel were “focused on the same goal,” the prevention of a nuclear-armed
Sanctions to reduce the revenue the Islamic Republic receives from
its oil industry were “getting stronger every day,” he said.
The US envoy
alluded to the possibility of military action against Iran, saying “all other
options are still available,” but he added that there was still a lot of
progress to be made on stopping Iran’s nuclear program through
Dempsey, who is expected to focus on convincing Israel to give
diplomacy and sanctions more time, is scheduled to be met on Friday morning by
an honor guard at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Premier Dan Meridor addressed US strategic policy on Iran on Thursday, saying
the United States’ leadership role within the international community is being
Speaking in an interview with Army Radio, he said. It is
imperative that “international pressure on Iran continues until the country
realizes that the price that it is paying [in pursuit of its nuclear agenda] is
too high,” Meridor said.
In Vienna, the UN nuclear watchdog’s chief said
it was his duty to warn the world about suspected Iranian activities that point
to plans to develop atomic bombs, maintaining pressure on Tehran ahead of rare
talks between Iran and his agency expected this month.
director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, made clear in an
interview with Financial Times Deutschland that the UN body would press for full
cooperation in meetings with Iranian officials in Tehran.
“What we know
suggests the development of nuclear weapons,” he was quoted as saying in
comments published in German on Thursday, adding that Iran had failed to clarify
allegations of military links to its nuclear program. “We want to check over
everything that could have a military dimension.”
An IAEA delegation, to
be headed by deputy director-general Herman Nackaerts, is expected to seek
explanations for intelligence information indicating Iran has engaged in
research and development applicable to nuclear weapons.
Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Wednesday that Iran, the world’s fifth biggest
oil exporter, was in touch with world powers to reopen talks that he expected to be held soon.
Washington and the EU
quickly denied this, saying they are still waiting for Iran to show it wants
serious negotiations addressing fears that it trying to master ways to build
atom bombs behind the facade of a civilian nuclear energy
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said after meeting
Salehi that all sides were willing to resume talks but the time and place need
to be settled.
“I will tell Ms. Ashton about the talks today,” he told
reporters, referring to the EU foreign policy chief who represents the powers on
“We have always said we are ready for dialogue,” French Foreign
Minister Alain Juppé told reporters in Paris. “Ashton has made concrete offers,
but sadly until today Iran has not committed transparently or cooperatively to
this discussion process.”
He added: “It’s for this reason that to avoid
an irreparable military option we have to strengthen sanctions.”
wanted to discuss only broader international security issues, not its nuclear
program, in meetings with the powers held sporadically over the past five
Iranian politicians said US President Barack Obama had expressed
readiness to negotiate in a letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
“In this letter it was said that closing the Strait of Hormuz
is our [the US’s] ‘red line’ and also asked for direct negotiations,” the
semi-official Fars news agency quoted lawmaker Ali Mottahari as
Salehi added the United States should make clear that it was open
for negotiations with Tehran without conditions.
“Mr. Obama sent a letter
to Iranian officials, but America has to make clear that it has good intentions
and should express that it’s ready for talks without conditions,” he
“Out in the open they show their muscles, but behind the curtains
they plead to us to sit down and talk. America has to pursue a safe and honest
strategy, so we can get the notion that America this time is serious and
The United States, like other Western countries, says it is
prepared to talk to Iran but only if Tehran agrees to discuss halting its
enrichment of uranium. Western officials say Iran has been asking for talks
“without conditions” as a stalling tactic while refusing to put its nuclear
program on the table.
Washington declined to comment on whether Obama had
written to Khamenei.
The stage was set for international oil sanctions
against Iran when Obama signed legislation on December 31 that would freeze out
any institution dealing with Iran’s central bank, making it impossible for most
countries to buy Iranian crude.Under this compromise proposal, EU governments
would be prohibited from making new contracts with Iran from the time the
embargo was imposed, but could buy crude previously contracted. This
exemption would end on July 1.
Iran’s foreign minister warned Arab
neighbors on Thursday not to put themselves in a “dangerous position” by
aligning themselves too closely with the United States in the escalating
Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, used for a
third of the world’s seaborne oil trade, if pending Western moves to ban Iranian
crude exports cripple its lifeblood energy sector, fanning fears of a slide into
wider Middle East war.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s No. 1 oil exporter,
riled Iran earlier this week when it said it could swiftly raise oil output for
key customers if needed, a scenario that could materialize if Iranian exports
“We want peace and tranquility in the region. But some of
the countries in our region, they want to direct other countries 12,000 miles
away from this region,” Salehi said in English during a visit to
The remark was an apparent reference to the alliance of Iran’s
Arab neighbors with Washington, which maintains a big naval force in the Gulf
and says it will keep the waterway open.
“I am calling to all countries
in the region: Please don’t let yourselves be dragged into a dangerous
position,” Salehi told Turkey’s NTV broadcaster.