JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—US President Barak Obama said Wednesday that time is running out for Iran to abandon its program to develop nuclear weapons before diplomacy gives way to punishment.
Speaking at a White House press conference with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama said “the window for diplomacy is shrinking.” He urged the Islamic Republic to take advantage of upcoming talks with world powers before having to face “even worse consequences.”
“We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Obama said, adding that he had sent a message “personally” to Iran’s leaders encouraging it to negotiate in good faith.
“Tehran must understand that it cannot escape or evade the choice before it. Meet your international obligations or face the consequences.”
In a related development Wednesday, Moscow’s Kommersant daily quoted Russian diplomats as saying that Obama had asked Russian leader Vladimir Putin to deliver an ultimatum to Iran: the Islamic Republic has one last chance for talks before a military strike.
According to Kommersant, the warning was conveyed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in New York on Monday. She reportedly asked Lavrov to warn Tehran that the upcoming talks with the P5+1 group—the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany—is the final opportunity to resolve the conflict peacefully. Otherwise, the paper reported, a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities will take place within months.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said last week that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could take place within months.
“We’re not standing with a stopwatch in hand,” he said. “It’s not a matter of days or weeks, but also not of years. The result must be removal of the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran’s hands.”
In his recent meeting with Obama in Washington, Netanyahu told the president that Israel had not yet reached a decision about whether to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities or when. However, he made it clear that Israel cannot rule out such an option and stressed that Israel has the sovereign right to defend itself against Iran.