Taking a jab at US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent statements on Iran, officials in Jerusalem asserted on Monday that a failure to set a deadline for Tehran's nuclear program is counterproductive.
In an interview with Bloomberg Radio on Sunday, Clinton said that the US is "not setting deadlines" for Iran and still considers negotiations as "by far the best approach" to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons.
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"These kinds of statements won't stop Iran's centrifuges, and could have the opposite effect," one top state official said, suggesting that instead of deterring Tehran's nuclear ambitions, Clinton's assertion could spur its pursuit of an atom bomb.
Centrifuges continue to spin at Natanz facility? (Photo: AP)
"Without a clear red line, Iran won't stop its race towards a nuclear weapon," he added.
'Israel is anxious'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said that Jerusalem and Washington are in talks over the "red lines" that need to be established to pressure Iran.
Speaking to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the Israeli leader said Iran "will not stop unless it sees clear determination by the democratic countries of the world and a clear red line.
"I don't think that they see a clear red line, and I think the sooner we establish one, the greater the chances that we won't need other types of action," he argued.
Clinton, meanwhile, said Israel is "more anxious about a quick response because they feel that they’re right in the bull’s-eye, so to speak, 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."
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Monday further rebuffed Israel's bid to convince the US to declare "red lines" that Iran must not cross.
While US President Barack Obama "has said unequivocally he will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon," the idea of deadlines or red lines was "not useful," she said.
"So, you know, we are absolutely firm about the president's commitment here, but it is not useful to be parsing it, to be setting deadlines one way or the other, red lines," she said, promising "intensive consultations with Israel."
Over the past week it appeared as though both the prime minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak made attempts to soften the rhetoric that pertains to a strike on Iran, evidently in order to allow the US and the international community an opportunity to step up pressure on the Islamic Republic.
"It is our responsibility as the political echelon to delay any wars that can be delayed," Barak said on Monday evening.
Yitzhak Benhoring contributed to the report from Washington
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