US President Barack Obama plans to propose to Iran that they conduct direct negotiations over the Islamic Republic nuclear program, Channel 10 reported Tuesday night citing a senior US official.
According to the official, the decision did not involve any coordination or consultation with Israel.
According to the report, the US is likely to give negotiations a time-frame of four to five months. If they do not succeed, the US may resort to the military option.
The report came a day after The Guardian reported that Western diplomats believe Israel has been leaking sensitive information about Iran’s nuclear program in a bid to rally the international community to action.
Meanwhile Israel renewed calls against the Iranian program, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday the problem would have to be confronted in 2013.
According to the Guardian report, Western diplomats suspect the Israeli moves have backfired, and have instead jeopardized the International Atomic Energy Agency’s investigation into the Iranian nuclear program. Diplomats said Israel was leaking the information because of an “impatience” over international delays to confront Iran.
The report cited a leaked diagram allegedly showing Iranian advances in nuclear technology as the latest example of the Israeli strategy. The diagram, published by the Associated Press’s correspondent in Vienna and widely distributed around the world, comprises a single line chart plotting power and energy in kilotons against time. The diagram also has a caption in Persian, which reads “Figure (5): Changes in power and energy released versus time during power pulse.” The axes of the graph are labeled in English.
The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization dismissed claims that the diagram proved anything about Iran’s program.
Speaking to foreign journalists on Monday, Netanyahu said Israel was sticking to the red line he laid down in September, when he told the United Nations Iran should not have enough enriched uranium to make even a single warhead.
“I made clear that once Iran crosses that enrichment threshold, the chances of us effectively stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program would be reduced dramatically,” he said.
“Iran is two and a half months closer to crossing this line and there is no doubt that this will be a major challenge that will have to be addressed next year.”
Israeli experts have said Iran could have enriched enough uranium to produce just one bomb by the spring or summer of 2013. In an effort to deter Tehran, Western powers have imposed increasingly tough economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
“The sanctions on Iran are hurting the Iranian economy. There is no question about that. But we have not seen any evidence that sanctions have stalled Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said.
“Israel is more capable of addressing this challenge than it was when I took office four years ago,” said Netanyahu, who looks on course to win re-election in a January 22 national ballot.
Iran’s nuclear facilities are well protected and dotted around the vast country, posing a massive challenge to the Israeli military which does not have the reach of the United States or as powerful conventional munitions.
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