U.S. Iran Policy Aimed at 'Buying Time,' Official Says

Blinken Says There Is Still Time for Diplomacy Work

By Haaretz

Published February 28, 2012.

U.S. policy on Iran is aimed at “buying time and continuing to move this problem into the future, and if you can do that — strange things can happen in the interim,” Anthony Blinken, National Security Adviser to Vice President Biden and Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, said on Monday.

Speaking at a briefing organized by the Israeli Policy Forum (IPF) in New York, Blinken also said that the U.S. believes that Iran “has not made a decision to produce a nuclear weapon, they are not on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon, and there is still time and space for diplomacy to work.”

Carefully choosing his words, Blinken said that Israel views a nuclear Iran as “an existential threat” while the U.S. believes that it would pose “a direct and serious threat” to its own security. But, he added, “Israel has to make its own decisions. We are not in the business of telling our allies and partners what to do when it comes to their own national security.”

In a short interview with Haaretz following his briefing, Blinken said that the assessments of Israel and the U.S. on Iran are “very close” to each other, “but because we are in different places, even physically, there may be tactical differences between the two countries — but the fundamental strategic position is the same.”

On the eve of next week’s critical summit between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, Blinken added that as far as he knows, “Israel has not made any decision about what it might or might not do.” Regarding the controversial statement made last week by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, that Iran is a “rational country”, Blinken said “you can have big debates about their rationality or lack or rationality, just as there were about the Soviet Union and China. But in the past, Iran has responded to effective pressure.”

For more, go to harretz.com



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