The United States has reiterated a pledge that it would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. At the same conference in Washington, Israel called for a ‘credible military’ threat against Iran.
Speaking to members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington on Monday, US Vice President Joe Biden said that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an "existential threat" to Israel and also pose a danger to other US allies in the region.
Biden said that while President Barack Obama wanted to see a peaceful resolution to the dispute, the use of force remained an option.
"The president of the United States cannot and does not bluff. President Barack Obama is not bluffing," Biden told AIPAC's annual policy conference. "We're not looking for war. We're ready to negotiate peacefully. But all options including military force are on the table," he added.
The statement was met with loud applause from the more than 13,000 activists attending the conference of the biggest pro-Israeli lobby in the United States.
Later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Tehran was getting close to what he described as a “red line” in its alleged efforts to develop nuclear weapons.
"Iran enriches more and more uranium, it installs faster and faster centrifuges," and it is "running out the clock" on diplomatic efforts to prevent the Islamic republic from obtaining nuclear capability, Netanyahu said in speech broadcast to the conference via satellite from his office in Israel.
"And I have to tell you, from the bottom of my heart, and the clarity of my brain, words alone will not stop Iran," he added. Diplomacy, he said, needed to be "coupled with a clear and credible military threat if diplomacy and sanctions fail."
IAEA demands Parchin access
Both speeches came just hours after the head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog demanded that Iran grant his inspectors immediate access to the Parchin military base near Tehran. Speaking at a board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on Monday, Yukiya Amano said this access should be granted regardless of whether upcoming negotiations with Iran resulted in a wider-reaching accord.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany are to hold another round of talks with Iran on its nuclear program in Kazakhstan on April 5.
Iran says its research, which has included the installation of new centrifuges at its Natanz plant, is for strictly peaceful purposes, aimed primarily at producing electricity. Western powers in particular fear that Iran could be using its civilian program as a front for efforts to develop nuclear weapons. The UN Security Council has imposed a number of rounds of sanction on Tehran over its nuclear program.
pfd/dr (Reuters, AFP)