Published: 17 June, 2012, 06:00
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (C) and Iran’s chief negotiator attend a meeting in Istanbul on April 14, 2012 (AFP Photo / Tolga Adanali)
As Moscow braces to host the third round of talks on Iranian nuclear program the US Senators are urging President Obama to ramp up pressure against Tehran and show that “credible military option” exists should Iran fail to curb its nuclear program.
Forty-four senators, both Republicans and Democrats, have addressed Barack Obama in a letter stating that Iran must immediately take steps to shut down the Fordow facility, freeze the enrichment of uranium above 5 per cent and ship uranium already enriched above 5 per cent out of the country.
“On the other hand, if the sessions in Moscow produce no substantive agreement, we urge you to reevaluate the utility of further talks at this time and instead focus on significantly increasing the pressure on the Iranian government through sanctions and making clear that a credible military option exist,” the senators stressed. “As you have rightly noted, ‘the window for diplomacy is closing.’ Iran’s leaders must realize that you mean precisely that.”
The third round of the negotiations between Iran and five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, known as P5+1, is scheduled to start in the Russian capital on Monday. The world powers will try to ease the tensions and secure an agreement to prevent a pre-emptive military strike against Iran by Israel.
The negotiations come less than two weeks before Iran faces the imposition of European oil embargo and American banking sanctions which could severely damage its economy.
The previous round of talks that took place in Baghdad at the end of May ended without a breakthrough with Iran declaring its “absolute right” to enrich uranium and Western powers snubbing the republic’s demands to remove sanctions.
Tehran keeps insisting on its right to enrich uranium – something the West is very unlikely to recognize. “We expect that Iran’s right to nuclear technologies, including uranium enrichment, will be recognized and respected. This is something that is clearly defined by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili said in an exclusive interview with RT.
“We are strongly against weapons of mass destruction,” he underlined.
As US President Barack Obama is heading for elections making concessions to Iran would make him vulnerable to criticism from his Republican rival Mitt Romney.
On Saturday, Romney, who has staked out a hawkish stance on Iran, ratcheted up his rhetoric against Obama accusing him of being afraid that Israel might attack Iran than that Iran will develop a nuclear weapon, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“You look at his policies with regards to Iran,” Romney said addressing a crowd of religious conservatives. “He’s almost sounded like he’s more frightened that Israel might take military action than he’s concerned that Iran might become nuclear.”
Earlier in May, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta stated that the US is ready to do everything it can to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. The American envoy to Israel earlier said that the military option is “fully available” and the necessary planning has been done.
“We will do everything we can to prevent them from developing a weapon,” Panetta told ABC News.
Throughout the entire stand-off Israeli leadership has been insisting on its hawkish approach ramping up war rhetoric against Tehran. During the first round of talks Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the negotiations only let Iran to buy time and get in the way of Washington and Tel Aviv.