The White House has denied reports of direct talks to be scheduled between the US and Iran over Tehran's nuclear development program.
In a statement issued Saturday, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told reporters: "It's not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections. We continue to work with the P-5 on a diplomatic solution and have said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally. The president has made clear that he will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and we will do what we must to achieve that.
"It has always been our goal for sanctions to pressure Iran to come in line with its obligations. The onus is on the Iranians to do so, otherwise they will continue to face crippling sanctions and increased pressure.”
Obama administration officials were quoted Saturday by The New York Times in a report that both parties had agreed to hold talks after the U.S. presidential elections, set for Nov. 6. The agreement allegedly came as the result of intense, secret exchanges between U.S. and Iranian officials, and appeared time to coincide just prior to the third and final debate between the two presidential candidates, one that focuses on national security and foreign policy.
Israel Ambassador to the United States Michael B. Oren responded to Saturday's announcement by telling the NYT that Israel had not been informed of the development by the Obama administration. Oren expressed Israel's concern that Iran would simply use the new talks as a way to “advance their nuclear weapons program.
"We do not think Iran should be rewarded with direct talks,” Oren said,” rather that sanctions and all other possible pressures on Iran must be increased.”
Iran has in the past used the gambit of holding out the promise of talks as a means of playing for time which Tehran has then used to step up its uranium enrichment program. The Islamic Republic has now managed to exponentially increase the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges in operation at its Natanz and Fordow nuclear plants, and has succeeded in its drive to begin enriching the nuclear fuel at a more than 20-percent level – the point at which uranium becomes a military weapons-grade nuclear fuel.
The international community was notified by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) one year ago that Iran's nuclear development program appears to be aimed at military purposes, rather than the solely peaceful, domestic aims it consistently claims.
Iran's leaders also continue to vow to wipe Israel off the world map, with their most recent vitriolic promises to keep their word to annihilate Israel having been issued in statements during speeches prior to and during observances of the country's “Qods (Jerusalem) Day” in August.