WASHINGTON (EJP)--- Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz called on the US to “impose more severe sanctions” on Iran, whilst exploring “other options”, during a meeting this week with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington.
The meeting came a day after a third round of negotiations between the international P5+1 team (the US, Great Britain, China, Russia and France, plus Germany) in Moscow apparently ended in failure as last-ditch diplomatic efforts by the international community failed to bring increased understanding with the Islamist regime.
According to a statement release by Mofaz’s government coalition-member Kadima party, the Israeli told Clinton “it is time for the United States and the Western powers to impose more severe sanctions in the oil embargo and financial sectors in order to stop Iran’s nuclear development program”. He continued to imply the time had come for military action to be considered, stating there was a need “to prepare other options”, in a move echoing revelations that 44 US Senators signed a letter to President Obama urging him to abandon his policy of diplomacy with Iran, ahead of the collapse of talks.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton confirmed the international delegation had failed in its diplomatic efforts in a statement on Tuesday night, when she announced lower level “technical” talks would be resumed in Istanbul on July 3 to “further clarify” the position and expectations of the international community and to increase “understanding of the Iranian response”.
In the clearest sign yet of growing Western frustration at Iran’s insistence of dictating the terms of international diplomatic policy, Ashton issued an unequivocal statement on the current impasse:
“The choice is Iran’s. We expect Iran to decide whether it is willing to make diplomacy work, to focus on reaching agreement on concrete confidence-building steps, and to address the concerns of the international community.”
Iran continues to insist that the international community removes harsh economic sanctions on the regime as a first step towards meeting Western demands, as well unequivocally accepted Iran’s right to pursue a civilian nuclear development program.
Israel has previously described Iran’s diplomatic efforts as a stalling tactic designed to buy time while it pursues nuclear development for military purposes.
According to the letter by the bipartisan group of senators, “if the sessions in Moscow produce no substantive agreement, we urge you to reevaluate the utility of further talks at this time and instead focus on significantly increasing the pressure on the Iranian government through sanctions and making clear that a credible military option exists”.
The communication, initiated by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and Republican Roy Blunt on Friday, continued to invoke Obama’s former strong rhetoric on the urgency of diplomatic success, saying: “As you have rightly noted, ‘the window for diplomacy is closing’. Iran’s leaders must realise that you mean precisely that.”
Outright failure of diplomacy in Iran is certain to have a marked impact on the US, which has to date been one of the staunchest supporters of a course of diplomacy combined with harsh economic sanctions in Iran, and is likely to especially worry US President Barack Obama, currently in the midst of a crucial reelection campaign leading up to November 6 presidential polls.
Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico and ahead of Tuesday’s second day of talks in Moscow to present a united backing of a course of diplomatic efforts with Iran, issuing the following joint statement:
“We agree that Iran must undertake serious effort aimed at restoring international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program,” they insisted, cautioning “but if they pursue the path they’ve been following, any progress in the talks will be stalled”.
With that caution becoming prophecy and diplomacy hitting a brick wall, Obama will fear he has provided a window of opportunity to his Republic presidential opponent Mitt Romney to criticise him additionally on having taken ‘too soft’ an approach to Iran.