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      U.S.: There's Still Time for Diplomacy with Iran

      White House Spokesman Jay Carney clarifies that the U.S. believes "there is time and space" for diplomacy with Iran.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 8/14/2012, 5:07 AM

      Jay Carney
      Jay Carney
      Reuters

      As reports continue in Israel about a possible strike in Iran, the White House clarified again on Monday that the U.S. believes there is still time for diplomacy on the Iranian nuclear issue.

      “We regret that Iran has not yet made a strategic decision to address the international community’s serious concerns regarding its nuclear program and the ongoing P5-plus-1 talks,” White House Spokesman Jay Carney told reports aboard Air Force One.

      “However, we continue to believe that there is time and space for diplomacy,” he added. “The opportunity remains for Iran to take advantage of this process by taking the necessary steps to come into compliance with its international obligations. “

      Carney said, “In the meantime, even as we continue P5-plus-1 talks, multilateral efforts to increase the pressure on Iran have not ceased at all. The United States continues to work with its partners around the world to increase the scale and scope on sanctions on Iran, as you know, making clear that such pressure will only grow until Iran changes course.”

      He stressed that the U.S. continues to increase pressure on Iran while the diplomatic efforts go on and said that “we work with the Israelis as well as all of our partners in that effort.”

      Specifically regarding Israel and a possible strike in Iran, Carney said, “I would point you to remarks that Prime Minister Netanyahu made not that long ago where he said that they had not yet made a decision about taking action, kinetic action. And we believe, and certainly share this with our partners, that there remains time and space to pursue a diplomatic course that is backed up by the very firm approach we’ve taken on sanctions.

      “There is every reason to continue the P5-plus-1 talks while the time and space remains,” he added. “But let’s be absolutely clear that the President’s policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

      Earlier on Monday, the daily newspaper Maariv reported that Israel has received assurances from the Obama administration, as well as the camp of Republican presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, that the United States will join a war against Iran on Israel's side, if such a war breaks out.

      According to the report the assurances were delivered in secret messages to senior officials in the bureau of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, from officials close to Obama and from Romney political advisors as well as Republicans who served in senior roles in former administrations and are expected to serve in important roles again if Romney is elected.

      Last week, Carney sought to reassure Israel when he said in a press briefing that the U.S. has real-time information on the Iranian nuclear program.

      “We have ‘eyes’ inside the nuclear facilities and we will know in real time when and if Iran decides to cross the threshold and develop nuclear weapons,” he said.”

      Carney’s remarks were made in response to recent assessments in Israel, especially those of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, according to which the Americans understand that the Iranian threat is becoming an increased concern.