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Report: Obama to Talk to Iran, Leave Israel in the Cold

Without consulting Israel, Obama has decided to hold direct negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/12/2012, 4:13 AM

Obama and Netanyahu
Obama and Netanyahu
Flash 90

U.S. President Barack Obama plans to soon propose to Iran that it negotiate directly with the Americans about its nuclear program, Channel 10 News reported on Tuesday.

The report, which cited a senior American official, said that Obama's move was made without any coordination or consultation with Israel.

According to the report, the Americans probably will allow a period of four to five months for negotiations with Tehran. If the talks fail, they may then resort to the military option. As well, Obama is planning to set preconditions for contacts with the Islamic Republic, including that it halt its uranium enrichment and agree to allow external monitoring of its nuclear facilities.

This is not the first time that Israel and the United States do not see eye to eye on the issue of Iran arming itself with nuclear weapons, but this is the first time that action was taken at such a high level of importance without informing Israel, noted Channel 10.

According to Channel 10, the White House believes that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is personally responsible for the leaks to the media of the IAEA report on the Iranian nuclear program, as was reported by the British Guardian on Monday.

The Guardian report indicated that Israel is suspected of carrying out a series of leaks implicating Iran in nuclear weapons experiments, in an attempt to raise international pressure on Tehran and halt its nuclear program.

The report said that Western diplomats believe the leaks may have backfired, compromising a UN-sanctioned investigation into Iran's past nuclear activities and current aspirations.

The latest leak, published by the Associated Press (AP), purported to be an Iranian diagram showing the physics of a nuclear blast, but scientists quickly pointed out an elementary mistake that cast doubt on its significance and authenticity.

The IAEA has accused Iranian authorities of undermining its effort to probe suspected nuclear weapons research at the Parchin facility by carrying out possible clean-up operations.

The head of the UN agency, Yukiya Amano, said last week that despite the clean-up, inspections at the military complex near Tehran would be "very useful".

In October, weeks before the presidential election in the U.S., it was reported that the United States and Iran had agreed, for the first time, to hold one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

One senior administration official said that the Iranians have insisted that the talks wait until after the presidential election, telling their American counterparts that they want to know with whom they would be negotiating.

The White House, however, quickly denied the report.