Everyone knows that the Israelis are pressing hard for the Obama administration to set a a relatively short-term deadline for progress in its prospective diplomatic engagement with Iran to bear fruit, after which it would move to tighten sanctions, hopefully in coordination with the EU and the other permanent members of the UN Security Council, against Tehran. If, after an additional period of time, Iran proved unresponsive, the Israelis hope that Washington would either take military action on its own or give the green light to Jerusalem to do so. By all accounts, Prime Minister Netanyahu will make some understanding about such a time line his Priority Number One in his talks with Obama in the White House Monday.
Now, on the eve of those talks, the administration appears to be preemptively rejecting this pressure, at least publicly. How else to interpret the following exchange today between reporters and State Department spokesman Ian Kelly about a report in Thursdayâ€™s Wall Street Journal headlined, â€œU.S., Allies Set October Target for Iran Progress: If Benchmarks on Nuclear Negotiations Arenâ€™t Met, Sanctions Would Followâ€¦â€ and an earlier â€” and remarkably similar â€” report that appeared May 10 in Haaretz? Read the rest of this entry Â»