Washington - US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel believes it was the harsh sanctions leveled against Iran combined with Israeli pressure which led Tehran to the negotiation table with the West. In an interview for Bloomberg's Jefery Goldberg, Hagel said that "Iran is responding to the constant pressure from Israel."
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Hagel's statements were issued a week after US State Secretary John Kerry made an irregular remark, seemingly aimed at Netanyahu: "We'll not succomb to fear tactics."
Hagel noted in the interview that he is not impressed that Israel is attempting to hamper the negotiations between the six world powers and Iran. Ahead of the second round of the talks in Geneva, the Americans clarified that no decision to ease the sanctions was made, and that there no such intentions before Iran's nuclear threat is solved.
"It’s true that sanctions - not just US sanctions but UN sanctions, multilateral sanctions - have done tremendous economic damage,” Hagel said. “Even many of Iran’s leaders have acknowledged that.
"And I think that Iran is responding to the constant pressure from Israel, knowing that Israel believes them to be an existential threat. I think all of this, combined, probably brought the Iranians to where we are today. Whether the Iranians will carry forth on that, we’ll see.”
Hagel made sure to absolve Netanyahu of the charge that he’s intent on subverting the nuclear talks. “I don’t think he’s intentionally trying to derail negotiations,” he said.
'Israelis would like an inventory of everything'
Several days ago Hagel revealed that the US administration will deliver six V-22 fighter jets to Israel as part of its defense package. However, the Americans are in no hurry to supply Israel with other means which may be used to strike against Iran.
"I suspect the Israelis would like an inventory of everything, but certain things we do keep as proprietary, and they know that,” Hagel said.
Meanwhile, on a visit to Saudi Arabia, Kerry said the US will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, and stressed that President Obama has made that point clear.
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