April 27th, 2010
05:51 PM ET

Iran looms over Israeli minister's meetings in U.S.

The United States is seeking tough new sanctions "to sharpen the choices that Iran's leaders face" after weekend talks between the Iranian government and the International Atomic Energy Agency failed to make progress on a deal over Iran's nuclear program, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met this weekend in Vienna, Austria, with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, but no headway was made on a plan for Iran to ship its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France to be converted into fuel for a medical research reactor.

Iran initially agreed to the offer when it was made in October, but later rejected it.

"So far as we are aware, based on the readout of the meeting between the Iranian foreign minister and the director general of the IAEA, there was nothing new that was presented," Clinton told reporters after a meeting with the president of the European parliament. "We still don't have anything other than just an ongoing effort to try to influence public opinion as opposed to sitting down and providing an answer on the outstanding offer on the [Tehran Research Reactor], which is many, many months old now."

"Iran's continued disregard for its international obligations underscores the importance of united international pressure to change its policies," Clinton added.

Iran was high on the agenda in talks between Clinton and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Washington on Tuesday. Barak left the State Department for further talks on Iran with Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

In a joint news conference at the Pentagon with Barak, Gates said he was satisfied with the planning process by the United States to prepare for a nuclear Iran. The defense secretary's assertion was in response to a question about a leaked classified memo to the White House in January in which Gates raised concerns about whether the administration had a sufficient policy in place, along with military options, for stopping Iran's progress in getting a nuclear weapon.

"I am very satisfied with the planning process, both within this building and in the inter-agency, we spend a lot of time on Iran and will continue to do so," Gates said.

"At this stage it is time for sanctions and diplomacy," Barak told reporters. "And expect the sanctions to be effective and to be limited in time to judge to whether, what kind of results, stem from the sanctions regime."

Israeli officials say they believe their government will give the sanctions effort about a year to see whether they put sufficient pressure on Iran before debating other options.

Even as it works toward peace with the Palestinians, Israel has called Iran's nuclear ambitions its greatest threat.

"I think Iran poses a serious and mortal threat not just against Israel but many Middle Eastern nations and world security in general," Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, told CNN's John Roberts on Tuesday. "If Iran gets a bomb, a great number of countries in the world, many of them unstable - failed regimes, terrorist groups - will get access to military nuclear technology and Iran is providing missiles to terrorists."

Oren said Israel supports sanctions against Iran and expects a new United Nations resolution will be passed that will impose "biting sanctions" against the Iranian regime.

Israel is "committed to these sanctions, seeing how they work, getting them up and running and imposing them on this regime in order to detour Iran from making nuclear weapons," Oren said.

However, Oren said if the sanctions don't work, Israel, "like any country in the world, has a right to defend itself."

Clinton and Barak also discussed the Middle East peace process and recent reports that Syria was providing Scud missiles to Hezbollah in Iran. The talks, which were supposed to run only 30 minutes, lasted an hour.

After the meeting, Barak praised Clinton's "commitment both to the friendship and responsibility" the United States has shown in guaranteeing Israel's security, as well as her "open-eyed approach" in pushing Israel and the Palestinians toward peace.

President Obama joined a meeting Monday between Barak and National Security Adviser James Jones to reaffirm U.S. policy regarding Israel and the Middle East peace talks, the White House announced. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president "dropped in" on the two men. According to Gibbs, Obama and Barak discussed how to move the peace process forward, challenges to regional security and "how to deal with the threats that both the U.S. and Israel face."

Barak's visit comes on the heels of talks held by George Mitchell, the U.S. special envoy, with both Palestinians and Israelis last week in the region. The meetings were part of a U.S. push to get the two sides back to the negotiating table.

Palestinians have resisted American pressure to resume talks unless the Israeli government agrees to a complete halt of new settlement construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

But U.S. and Israeli sources say Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week offered a package of possible incentives to the Palestinians, including the release of Palestinian prisoners, more control for Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, the easing of more roadblocks and more economic development.

Although Netanyahu did not commit to halting settlement construction in East Jerusalem, the sources say he has established a mechanism that ensures more transparency. Netanyahu's office will now be notified about all construction planning and announcements in Jerusalem. Although he cannot ban such construction, Israeli sources say this enables the prime minister to prevent any surprises that could sabotage the peace process - something they say happened when U.S. Vice President Joe Biden recently visited the region.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signaled in an interview with Israeli television that talks could resume soon. He is expected to consult this week with the Arab League, a meeting which Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley told reporters is viewed by Washington as an important barometer of Arab support for the resumption of talks.

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Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Iran • Israel
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Jay

    America step down and let's see how long badass Israel can defend itself against the rest of the world. If you want the violence in the middle east to end...do unto others as you'd have them do unto you.... As soon as America ends it's glutton behavior on oil no one in America will give a crap about Israel or Iran.

    April 27, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. beaujam90

    As always ! No mention of the israeli nuclear or chemical or biological weapons programs while the rest of the world obeys President Obama on this matters.
    Iran only want a fair deal, racist israel want to confuse us and fool us to think that Iran is the danger. Israel have used ilegal weapons to kill innocent civilian population in Gaza and in lebanon. Why the USA accepts this injustice?

    April 27, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Abba gee

    By allah protection iran will become victorious its the begning of war between islam &christian crusaders under the leadership hypocracy from the west &america

    April 27, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. duh

    #2, loads of accusations, loaded words (prove Israel's "racist", then we'll talk), and strait BS (Iran wants a fair deal??). No one mentions Israel's weapons because Israel hasn't threatened to annihilate another country. Come to think of it, Israel gets threatened with annihilation every day...

    April 27, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • GrimShaw

      What do you call removing all but 25% of non-jews from Israel? Patty-cake?? I call that racism. What about the ADL? They actively defame anyone that speaks against any Zionist-Israeli policy – whether it's the truth or not. They can destroy people's lives just by calling them antisemitic when a person isn't antisemitic at all – but questioning the "norm". It is important to question, ALWAYS QUESTION. Especially when you are urged not to.

      July 25, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Al

    All the talk about Iran nukes is just a red herring, president Obama announced open talks with Iran and then put the task to Denis Ross, no one should take any of this stuff seriously.

    Half the oil under Arabian Peninsula belongs to US companies per their 50-50 agreements going back to 1950s. That is why we spend 5 Billion a year keeping an aircraft battle group there.

    That is a lot of American wealth to protect, if it will take few Townsend Jewish lives in a retaliatory strike by Iran so that the split does not become 60-40 or 70-30 going forward with an assertive Iran which may spread to its oil reach neighbors it’s a price America is ready to pay!
    Chance of an Israel strike will depend on Iran – India gas pipe line, as well as other major economic developments.
    Europeans have been leaving Iran in large numbers pointing to an immediate attach while Chinese and others are taking their place just as fast.
    Are these signs off impending attack or did the Iran market changed hands for other considerations.
    Follow the money!

    April 27, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DK

    Al, you said it all. It about control of the oil flow and US companies greed. And why shouldn't Iran be allowed to have the same weapons as Israel. WE "American" talk equility yet we are famous for interferring where we don't belong. Maybe someone is in a hurry to start another World War so American Captialist can get richer once again off our dead.
    It is not our place to chose sides or to tell another country what the can & can't have, or what to believe in.

    April 27, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DK

    And all these sanctions will not hurt their Government, just the people. Then we can prove their leaders are right as they go hungry. So many see us a an evil society who prays on others and try to force them into another way of life.

    April 27, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. human

    Israel is the only terrorist in the middle east, killing thousands of innocent civilians and children in Gaza, constantly attacks their neighbors and already have nukes. Iran has none !
    and who was the only nation from the middle east who attacked the US ?
    Isreal !
    and now Iran became a threat to the world ?

    What happened to the common sense of human civilization ?

    April 27, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • MIKI


      July 25, 2010 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. beaujam90

    #4 You can research for yourself on google, israel crimes have always been racialy motivated, See the article which even the black jews from Ethiopia origin are being sterilized by chemical injections. Or the article where israel kidnaps young palestinians, then steals their organs after killing them.
    Israeli laws are racist against arab and non-european israeli as well as against non-jews and non-zionist jews.
    Israel has always supported financialy and diplomaticly the Apatheid regime in South Africa by lobbying the USA. The zonist fashist state has even helped the white racist South African goverment to build nuclear weapons...
    Israel is becoming more and more unstable and crazier. Now Israel is even turning against its only ally the USA.
    Israel have commited more crimes and broken almost all laws in UN charter and the Geneva convention more than all countries of the world put together. Israel should stop making wars and should start making peace.

    April 27, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Commonsense

    Why do we support israel? Because it is made up of intelligent educated people, and is surrounded by autocracies. We in the USA stick up for those who share our democratic ideals.

    April 27, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joe

    #10 Nazi germany would be a great place for you. You would have learned a lot. Like how you should invade countries and kills people who object to its well "educated democratic ideas". Zionist israelis are the Nazi of this era, only you don't see it.
    God forgive, I hope racist Israeli mossad agents will never succeed in assassinating the President Obama.

    April 27, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. john Harman

    #4 you can only fool yourself by saying "prove Israel's racist, then we 'll talk".
    You planted racism when you proclaimed you were, "the chosen people of your God" while you called others gentiles.
    Only your Patron and those who hate you most, one among them exterminated, according to your claim 6 million people of your race, are keeping mum, reg your arsenal of nuclear weapons. And you know why.
    You brought upon yourself the threat because you expelled those who belonged to the land, which you clam to be yours.
    Your ancestors were expelled from that land over a thousand years ago. And number of times earlier, Why?
    Your arrogance has been causing hate the world over, causing others to react and hate you.
    One of your eminent persons opined that unless you gave up your mythical superiority, the world will find no peace. Don't ask me who, find him yourself.
    Even your God is sick and tied of you. I bet you know it from your Bible.

    April 27, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Arnold

    Half of the oil around there belongimg to the US is an understatement. Actually only the sand belong to Arabs and they will never be master of the oil. Get real and understand the power of the force. Like it or not The US and Europeans will do anything and everything when need be to take that oil and survive and there is no power in the universe to stop them. That's life dude. Follow the Power.

    April 27, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. A well wisher

    Lets see how long US is going to backing up Israel! Once it is stopped then most probably we can see more peace on this earth!!!

    April 27, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Shaun

    If one believes in democracy and its ideals then you should support Israel. PERIOD. This knew hatred towards Israel found in the West is utterly ridiculous when one notices that Israel is the ONLY democracy in the Middle East. There's over 1 million Arab Israelis living in Israel as full citizens – having more rights given to then than any other Middle Eastern country.
    Homosexuals flee Gaza into Israel because they're afraid for their lives under the terrorist Hamas regime. And to think, I once saw sign at a Palestinian rally "Gays for Palestine." What's happening to the world?
    Hamas instigated a war by firing hundreds of rockets DAILY and aimlessly into Israeli cities. What would any government in the world have done? That's 100% certified terrorism. What's worse is that they knew Israel would have to respond to such blatant aggression but still did so knowing that Gaza is a densely populated area. But, no, that;s not enough, they use their own people as human shields and then go about hiding their arms and militants in public areas (schools, hospitals, etc). And somehow Israel is blamed for the Palestinian death toll. Even the Palestinian people fed up with Hamas, who have killed out its opposition in Gaza (Fatah).
    And somehow, thousands of ignorant college students rally against Israel for Hamas, the epitome of everything inhumane and anti-democratic.
    And, just for the record, Iran despises the West. It gaining a nuclear weapon is terrible news for America. Don't be fooled into thinking it's only and Israeli problem.
    Wake up.

    April 27, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
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