Clinton at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
Clinton at Asia-Pacific Economic CooperationReuters

The Obama administration has no “deadline” for Iran, says U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an interview that is bound to be far from welcome in Israel

Negotiations still are “by far the best approach” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, she told Bloomberg Radio Monday morning, hours after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in an interview with Canadian television Sunday night that Iran “doesn’t see a clear red line from the international community.

Last week, the Prime Minister flatly stated that sanctions may be damaging Iran’s economy but are not interfering with Iran’s hectic pace to acquire a nuclear weapon.

Clinton, President Barack Obama’s equivalent of Foreign Minister, didn’t take the hints and declared that deadlines are not part of current American policy.

“We’re watching very carefully about what they do, because it’s always been more about their actions than their words,” Clinton said in the interview after she concluded her Asian tour in Russia.

Clinton reiterated the transparently different clocks Israel and the United States are reading. “They’re more anxious about a quick response because they feel that they’re right in the bull’s-eye, so to speak,” Clinton said. “But we’re convinced that we have more time to focus on these sanctions, to do everything we can to bring Iran to a good-faith negotiation.”

All indications from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are that Iran has increased its capacity to enrich uranium, a key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, and that the  Ahmadinejad regime is continuing to stockpile the material at grades that can be used in the future for non-peaceful purposes.

Part of Clinton’s tour was aimed at convincing China and Russia to soften their opposition to sanctions. She tried it put a positive spin on their reactions by stating that Moscow and Beijing agree that Iran should not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon, even though both countries are helping Tehran build its facilities.

With the United Nations General Assembly set to open its winter session this month, Clinton still is looking forward to diplomatic talks to solve the Iranian knot.

“It’s a very challenging effort to get them to move in a way that complies with their international obligations,” Clinton said of the Iranians. “But we believe that is still by far the best approach to take at this time.”

She said she understands that Israel feels that a nuclear Iran “would be an existential threat…and no nation can abdicate their self-defense if they feel that they’re facing such a threat,” but she also insisted that sanctions are working although Iran so far has not agreed to stop advancing its nuclear development.