Israel, U.S. United on Iran: Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israeli President Shimon Peres attend a news conference on Monday after participating in a private discussion. Israel and the United States are now "on the same page" in efforts to pressure Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons activities, Clinton said (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski).
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israeli President Shimon Peres attend a news conference on Monday after participating in a private discussion. Israel and the United States are now "on the same page" in efforts to pressure Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons activities, Clinton said (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski).

Israel is now "on the same page" as the United States in confronting Iran over atomic activities both capitals fear are geared toward establishment of a nuclear-weapon capability, Reuters quoted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying on Monday (see GSN, July 16).

Israel has publicly expressed willingness to employ armed force against Iran should multilateral efforts fail to address concerns over nuclear operations Tehran insists are strictly nonmilitary in nature. The United States, which has also refused to rule out a strike, has pressed Tel Aviv to defer any military action as the diplomatic process unfolds and as the global community implements new financial penalties against the Persian Gulf regional power.

Clinton said in Jerusalem she had spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "about concrete steps that we can take to continue to build the pressure" against the Iranian government.

"It's absolutely fair to say we are on the same page at this moment trying to figure our way forward to have the maximum impact on affecting the decisions that Iran makes," she said in reference to her discussion with the Israeli leader (Arshad Mohammed, Reuters I, July 16).

“I made very clear that the proposals we have seen thus far from Iran within the P-5+1 negotiations are nonstarters,” Clinton said regarding the most recent in a series of meetings between Iranian delegates and counterparts representing the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany (see GSN, July 5).

“Despite three rounds of talks [in 2012] it appears that Iran has yet to make the strategic decision to address the international community’s concerns and fulfill its obligations,” Agence France-Presse quoted her as saying.

The United States wishes to resolve the standoff by peaceful means, but "we will use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," she said.

Clinton said Iran is now “under greater pressure than ever before” as a result of U.S. leadership in global efforts to address the atomic concerns, and “that pressure will continue and increase."

The office of Israeli President Shimon Peres indicated the official had received Clinton's pledge that financial pressure against Tehran "will continue to become harsher."

Peres said: “I think the coalition we have built, and the measures you have taken are beginning to have their impact … they are the right start.”

“We appreciate very much your position. We trust its depth and dedication and determination and we feel partners of this coalition," he added (Agence France-Presse/Dawn, July 16).

Netanyahu counselor Zalman Shoval, though, described "increasing worry" about negotiations.

“Time is running out,” the one-time Israeli ambassador to the United States told the New York Times. “This will be made very clear by Israel, maybe not publicly but certainly inside the meetings, and that Israel must keep its own options also on the table although we still hope that the United States will take the lead” (Jodi Rudoren, New York Times, July 16).

A new gathering of senior delegates to address the atomic standoff could result from a planned July 24 discussion between Iranian Supreme National Security Council Undersecretary Ali Bagheri and Helga Schmid, a delegate for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the Associated Press on Tuesday quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying (Associated Press/Boston Globe, July 17).

An Iranian lawmaker on Tuesday urged his country to "enrich uranium to the needed level to supply fuel for the ships."

"Given the Western states' sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which include [an] embargo on supplying fuel to Iranian vessels, the Islamic Republic will replace the fossil fuel with nuclear fuel to counter the sanctions so that the Iranian ships will not need refueling for long-distance voyage," Allahverdi Dehqani, head of the Iranian legislature's industries commission, said to the nation's Fars News Agency.

"The government should enrich uranium to the necessary levels to supply fuel for such ships since we cannot cut our trade relations with other countries due to the Western sanctions," he said (Fars News Agency, July 17).

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday said the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis would return to the Persian Gulf region four months sooner than previously planned as a means of addressing the area's increasingly charged political environment, the London Telegraph reported. The ship and its accompanying vessels would join the USS Dwight Eisenhower, an aircraft carrier already in the region.

The ship transfer would address a "wide range of security issues" in its vicinity, a Defense Department spokesman said. "This is not about any one particular country or any one particular threat" (McElroy/Blomfield, London Telegraph I, July 16).

The U.S. naval fuel carrier USNS Rappahannock on Monday discharged weapons against a fishing vessel near the United Arab Emirates, causing the death of an Indian passenger and hurting three others, Reuters reported. U.S. government personnel have not connected Tehran to the incident, which the Navy said took place after the boat continued to move toward the warship after receiving multiple calls to change course.

The U.S. action prompted a negative response from Tehran.

"We have announced time and again that the presence of foreign forces can be a threat to regional security," Mehmanparast said. "Certainly regional countries with the help of one another can provide security in the best possible way. If they join hands, with their defensive capabilities, they don't need the presence of foreign forces. Anywhere where you see insecurity we have always seen the hand of foreign forces there."

Recent Iranian hints at a possible effort to close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital regional oil transport route, are "a deterrent" against state supporters of penalties targeting Iran over its nuclear program, the spokesman added. Such governments "threaten global energy supplies," he said (Marcus George, Reuters II, July 17).

The United States is due on Tuesday to unveil plans for a 20-nation drill in the Middle East to simulate the identification and elimination of water-based explosives, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. The maneuvers, slated for Sept. 16-27, would be the largest of their kind conducted in the area to date by the United States.

Warships, aircraft and unmanned undersea vehicles are due to participate in the drill, which would take place near but not in the Strait of Hormuz. No need exists to consider the activity threatening, one high-level armed forces insider said (Entous/Barnes, Wall Street Journal, July 16).

"We have brought into force very wide-ranging sanctions on Iran. Without progress in these negotiations we will intensify those sanctions in the months ahead," the Telegraph on Tuesday quoted British Foreign Secretary William Hague as saying. "We are determined to prevent nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, and the Iranians should not doubt our resolve in our determination to prevent that coming about" (London Telegraph II, July 17).

July 17, 2012
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Israel is now "on the same page" as the United States in confronting Iran over atomic activities both capitals fear are geared toward establishment of a nuclear-weapon capability, Reuters quoted U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton as saying on Monday.

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