Israel on Wednesday cautiously welcomed the planned resumption of big-power nuclear talks with Iran, insisting that Tehran be denied the means to turn uranium into bomb fuel.
With Israel speaking increasingly loudly of resorting to military action to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, the talks could provide some respite in a crisis that has driven up oil prices and threatened to draw the United States into its third major war in a decade.Tuesday's announcement of new talks followed a visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United States, where President Barack Obama said the talks offered a diplomatic chance to quiet the "drums of war".Taking up Iran's offer of talks with the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the powers sought assurances on "the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program, while respecting Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy".A date and venue for the talks have yet to be agreed.Ahead of his White House meeting with Obama on Monday, Netanyahu demanded Iran's enrichment stop and its uranium with a higher than 3.5 percent purity, the level used for electricity generation, be removed.Netanyahu has also said Iran must dismantle an underground enrichment facility near the city of Qom, which experts say is designed to survive any air strikes, part of what Israel calls a "zone of immunity" being sought by Tehran.
Netanyahu's spokesman Liran Dan said there had been no U.S. effort to veto or endorse any military action by Israel on Iran.
"A red light was not given. And if we're already talking about colors, then a green light was not given either," he said in remarks to both radio stations. "If there are red lines being discussed, they are not between us and the Americans, but rather, between the international community and Iran."
Upon landing Netanyahu said, “I return from a very important visit to the U.S. and Canada. I was received warmly, we have many courageous friends.”
He added, “We are returning for Purim, and this evening we will read in the Book of Esther about those days in which Jews were not of their fate and could not defend themselves. Today we are in a different world and a different era; we have a strong state and army. The threats have not disappeared, but we can defend ourselves. We have very many friends that stand at our side and will do so at all times.”