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In an attempt to make their proposals more palatable to Tehran, the United States and five other world powers appeared to have softened previous demands in Almaty - for example regarding their requirement that the Iranians ship out their stockpile of the higher-grade uranium.
A senior Israeli official said that while the Netanyahu government had hoped for a tougher line by the so-called P5+1, it was resigned to awaiting the results of this round of talks.
“At the end of the day, what matters is that the Iranians end their enrichment, whether it’s through shutting down their facilities or through more nuanced technical safeguards,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
The official would not comment on how or if the latest diplomacy had affected the readiness of Israel, which is widely assumed to have the region’s only nuclear arsenal, to go to war.
Iran may have warded off that threat by turning some of its 20 percent-pure uranium into fuel rods for a research reactor.
The international standoff and shifting timelines are expected to dominate U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip to Israel later this month. The Israelis urge a tougher posture on Iran from their ally, which has a hefty military presence in the Gulf and says it is poised to use force as a last resort.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, in a speech in Washington to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, echoed Netanyahu in voicing doubt that diplomacy would stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“Therefore, all options must remain on the table,” he told the pro-Israel lobby group. “We expect all those who say it to mean it. We mean it.”
Israel’s dovish president, Shimon Peres, sounded more upbeat after meeting Sherman last Thursday. Peres said he had “total faith in the Obama administration, in its commitment and its actions in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons”.
Obama’s Israel visit has been overshadowed by local politics too, given the rightist Netanyahu’s failure so far to build a new coalition government after he narrowly won a Jan. 22 ballot.
Appealing to potential party allies to rally to him in the name of national security, Netanyahu told his cabinet: “To my regret this is not happening, and in the coming days I will continue my efforts to unify and galvanise forces ahead of the major national and international challenges that we face.”