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U.S. Keeps Nuclear “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy With Israel, Calls For More Sanctions on Iran

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21 May 09 | Reuters and PTV

The U.S. administration of President Barack Obama will not force Israel to state publicly whether it has nuclear weapons, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

He said Washington would stick to a decades-old U.S. policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

Obama’s bid to curb Iran’s nuclear programme through diplomacy has stirred speculation that, as part of a regional disarmament regimen, Israel could be asked to come clean on its own secret capabilities.

But a senior Israeli diplomat, speaking after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held his first summit with Obama in Washington this week, said: “This has never happened, nor will it happen with this administration.”

That U.S. message had been conveyed, the diplomat said, “on the various levels of our bilateral talks”. >>>

U.S. calls for collective action against Iran

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton backtracks on imposition of more U.S. unilateral sanctions against Iran in favor of multilateral penalties.

Clinton told lawmakers on Wednesday that adding new unilateral sanctions against Iran was ‘not really that helpful’ at the present juncture.

She said, however, that if diplomacy could not work, multilateral sanctions backed by U.S. partners, notably China and Russia, were a better choice in curbing Tehran’s nuclear program for now.

“We already have a lot of sanctions on the books but the most effective ones are the ones that we have been able to persuade a lot of our partners to pursue as well,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s Wednesday remarks were an apparent retreat from her earlier talks of sanctions in April. Clinton had said that the U.S. was left with no choice but to unilaterally impose ‘very tough, crippling sanctions’ against Iran should diplomatic means prove to be of no avail.

The West, spearheaded by the U.S. and Israel, accuses Iran – a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — of pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

This is while Tehran has repeatedly said that a military nuclear program does not fit in its defense paradigm, saying that its nuclear program is aimed at producing electricity to meet its growing demand.

Asked about any linkage between the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Iran’s nuclear work, the former first lady told the lawmakers that the U.S. was seeking to persuade Arab nations that Iran was a bigger threat than Israel and that they should join an anti-Iran front.

I do believe that the “alliance which has come together of Israel and many of her Arab neighbors against Iran obtaining nuclear weapons is an opportunity that will enable us both to move forward with our engagement regarding Iran and our commitment to pursue diplomacy and to build a multilateral coalition” against Iran, she said.

Such coalition, according to Clinton, would be a ‘great opportunity’ to assist in achieving the two-state solution.

The U.S., along with the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the UK, France, Russia and China — plus Germany are discussing Iran’s nuclear work.

While the UNSC, under U.S. pressure, has adopted three rounds of sanctions against Iran over its uranium enrichment work, Russia and China seem reluctant to further impose sanctions against the country.

Under different allegations including the development of nuclear military work, Washington has imposed various unilateral sanctions against Tehran since the two countries severed diplomatic ties thirty years ago.

Clinton’s backtracking on more unilateral sanctions against Iran comes as earlier in May, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had expressed dismay over Washington’s threat of imposing further unilateral sanctions on Iran.

“We keep telling our partners that unilateral sanctions are not in line with our collective actions,” Lavrov said at a joint press conference with Clinton, adding Russia saw no “sense” in any harsh sanctions against Iran but instead sought to return Iran to the negotiating table.

Iran says it favors talks over its nuclear work, but has called for logical negotiations without any preconditions. Iran also calls on the U.S. to manifest real changes rather than a mere change of tone in dealing with Iran.EDITOR’S NOTE: Rewind to the 9th of Feb., Helen Thomas asked the president about Israel’s nuclear weapons in a sly, non-hostile manner and he didn’t answer the question to which everyone knows the uncontroversial answer. (3:17):

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Written by Editors

21 May 2009 at 5:09 pm

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