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INTERNATIONAL > US and Israel spar on dealing with Tehran’s nuclear drive

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In the latest sign of the gap widening between two allies over how to deal Iran’s nuclear program, the Israeli premier criticizes the US’ policy toward the Islamic Republic

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta participates in a joint news conference at the Prime Ministers office in Jerusalem. AP photo

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta participates in a joint news conference at the Prime Ministers office in Jerusalem. AP photo

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Aug. 1 without qualification that international economic sanctions have had no effect on Iran’s nuclear program and suggested Israeli patience was wearing thin, a statement that amounted to an indictment of President Barack Obama’s policy toward the Islamic republic.

Netanyahu dismissed U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s assurances that the United States shared its goal of a non-nuclear Iran, saying the central features of Washington’s strategy for stopping the Islamic republic’s nuclear ambitions, sanctions and diplomacy, were perilously close to failure.
Netanyahu did not explicitly threaten to attack Iran, but that was the unspoken implication of his assertion that all non-military measures have proven ineffective in persuading Iran to change its course.

“Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program,” the Associated Press quoted Netanyahu as saying. “This must change, and it must change quickly because time to resolve this issue peacefully is running out.” His message was particularly striking, given that he delivered it beside Panetta, who spent two days in Israel offering reassurances that the two allies shared the same goals on Iran.

‘Same statements few months ago’

“I want to reassert again the position of the United States that with regards to Iran, we will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon,” the Pentagon chief said. “We will not allow them to develop a nuclear weapon. And we will exert all options in the effort to ensure that that does not happen.”

Panetta argued that all non-military means of pressuring Iran must first be exhausted before military action is called for. He said repeatedly that Washington still considers military action an option for the future. But Netanyahu was unyielding in his view that more must be done now. He said sanctions have hurt Iran’s economy but not achieved their ultimate purpose, which is to change the calculus of Iran’s rulers. “Neither sanctions nor diplomacy has yet had any impact on Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” the Israeli leader said. “America and Israel have also made clear that all options are on the table.

New sanctions

You yourself said a few months ago that when all else fails, America will act,” he said, referring to statements by Panetta. “But these declarations have also not yet convinced the Iranians to stop their program.” After Netanyahu’s comments, the White House insisted sanctions against Iran were having a “significant” impact. President Barack Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney said Iran had “yet to make the choice it needs to make, which is to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.”

“We completely agree with the prime minister’s assessment that Iran has failed to make that choice and that is absolutely a disappointment,” Carney said, aboard Air Force One. He added however that sanctions were having “a significant effect on the Iranian economy.” By the time Panetta is visiting Israel, U.S. Congress voted to slap sanctions on Iran’s energy, shipping and financial industries. The House overwhelmingly passed the bill 421-6 and a short time later, the Senate approved it by voice vote. The measure now heads to President Barack Obama for his expected signature.

The legislation would impose sanctions on anyone who mines uranium with Iran; sells, leases or provides oil tankers to Tehran; or provides insurance to the National Iranian Tanker Co., the state-run shipping line.

August/03/2012

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READER COMMENTS

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Cy Samuels

8/3/2012 6:29:14 PM

@David Ellison - If you think for one moment that Israeli leadership understands and obides by morality of "Friendship" you are having a nightmare of a dream!

Cy Samuels

8/3/2012 5:54:03 PM

By hook or krook, Iran will become a Nuclear Power, what it will do with that capability is up to Israel! Should it persist riding to act like it owned the World ordemand unceasant Homage to itself, as it does now, Iran will act likewise. Israel should get off of it's High Horse, stop acting with the "My way or Highway" mentality! Remember Israel, there is a Higher Power than all of us combined, that calls on us to live by our Concience!

Roger Harding

8/3/2012 4:29:44 PM

A very serious matter. Yet, laughable at the same time. Israel is in no position to preach to Iran. Havign obatained nuclear weapons secretly itself. Israel must come clean first Binyamin! Those who live by the sword, will die by the sword. So, stop screaming. Israel alone is responsible for covertly kick-starting the nuclear race in the middle-east. Now reap, what you sow!

sam stevens

8/3/2012 11:56:10 AM

Yeah yeah Murat, blame dem Joos ! Of course the middle east is blissfully peaceful where flowers grow & children blossom,they're all well educated & modern in their outlook,their inventions are global,you even use them. Their nobel prize winners are many & their country thrives....they even have tolerance of religion & equality for women,they have wealth & health......Ooops sorry,I seem to have my countries mixed up !!! Muslim jealousy of Israel is the crux of it all .

Lior Uziel

8/3/2012 11:44:57 AM

suat yildirim, Iran is sponsoring all the terror organization surrounding Israel and acting to annihilate it - Hezbollah from the North and Hamas from the South. Both have in their charter the destruction of Israel from religious bidding of God. When Iran becomes nuclear, nuclear bomb can leak to those terror organizations, and they will have less concern (as they are less concerned about the states that they infiltrated and more concern with godly commands) to use it against Israel!

Foreigner .

8/3/2012 11:43:42 AM

What a clear, explicit and blatant example of who pulls the strings to the American policy and drags another nation into war for itself. This article (and the declarations within) should be preserved as prooof of who rules who, wo uses who, who works for who, etc.

suat yildirim

8/3/2012 10:39:59 AM

Israel makeing a big mistake want to atack to Iran.You can bomb Iran destroy all nuklear targets will not stop Iran.They will use garilla taktick all over the world that No one Israelly dare to live home.We see small example of it in Bulgaria.Think first.Garillas in Irak and Afganistan defitid Us and Nato aliance.

cloud chaser

8/3/2012 9:21:09 AM

@Murat To be more precise - You might be right in asserting that Israel endangers the region's peace, but you neatly side step the true issue- who endangers the region itself? who commits human rights abuses domestically? which side commits war crimes (the specific targetting of civilians and non combatans, as opposed to colatteral damage)? Do you want to know the bitter truth about the WORLD'S PEACE? The world would be extremely peaceful if no one lived in it. That is the peace you advocate.

rich bind

8/3/2012 9:04:48 AM

@Murat - yes Israel threatens to take steps to stop Iran from developing nuclear arms, a goal shared by most nations & in particular the Arab countries of the Mideast (Gulf States, Saudis, Egypt, Jordan) On the other hand the leader of Iran, just a couple of days ago, called for the complete annihilation of Israel. I suppose you share his sentiments in this regard, but I suppose its frustrating that Israel, like Turkey, acts in its own best interests, fighting those that would destroy her.

Berk Özmeral

8/3/2012 4:46:00 AM

Coming from a country with confirmed nuclear weapons that has refused to let IAEA inspectors in their country. Hypocrisy to the extreme
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