Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei turned down the US offer of one-on-one talks on its nuclear program Thursday, Feb. 7, just 24 hours after US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that due to budgetary constraints, the US could only keep one, not two, US aircraft carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf, and had cancelled the departure of a second carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman.
On Saturday, US Vice-President Joe Biden suggested direct talks – separate from the wider international discussions scheduled for Feb. 26 in Kazakhstan between the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. No previous negotiations in this format over the years have ever produced a breakthrough.
Biden said Washington was prepared for direct talks with Iran “when the Iranian leadership, supreme leader, is serious”. “That offer stands,” he said later, “but it must be real and tangible and there has to be an agenda that they are prepared to speak to. We are not just prepared to do it for the exercise,” he said. Continue reading
Israel has withdrawn its pledge to US President Barack Obama not to strike Iran’s nuclear sites before the November presidential election after he rejected its minimal demands for nuclear negotiations with Iran. This is reported exclusively by debkafile’s Washington sources.
When Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the Pentagon on May 17 he was told that Obama had rejected Israel’s toned-down demands for Iran to at least to halt high-grade uranium enrichment, export its stocks of material enriched higher than 3.5 percent grade and shut down production at the Fordo nuclear plant near Qom.
A week of consultations followed the defense minister’s return home, during which it was decided to tear up Israel’s pledge to refrain from attacking Iran during the US presidential campaign. Wednesday, May 23, the day the Baghdad talks began, Barak signaled Washington to this effect.
It was conveyed in a little-noticed early morning radio interview with the defense minister. To make sure his words reached the proper address without misunderstandings, the defense minister’s office issued a verbatim English translation from the Hebrew:
“There is no need to tell us what to do, and we have no reason to panic. Israel is very, very strong, but we do know that the Iranians are accomplished chess players and will try to achieve nuclear capabilities. Our position has not changed. The world must stop Iran from becoming nuclear. All options remain on the table.”
As the Baghdad talks went around in circles, Israel’s military option was put back firmly on the table and on the US-Iranian chessboard.
Full article: Israel revives military option after Obama rejects its nuclear demands of Iran (DEBKAfile)