Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s threats of military action against Iranian nuclear sites, combined with the pressure of harsh Western sanctions that crippled the Iranian economy, might have helped bring the Islamic Republic to the negotiating table, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said, according to a Bloomberg report on Monday.
“It’s true that sanctions – not just US sanctions but UN sanctions, multilateral sanctions – have done tremendous economic damage,” Hagel told Jeffrey Goldberg last week.
“And I think that Iran is responding to the constant pressure from Israel, knowing that Israel believes them to be an existential threat. I think all of this, combined, probably brought the Iranians to where we are today,” he said.
“Whether the Iranians will carry forth on that, we’ll see.”
Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that the US would not “succumb to fear tactics” of those who oppose diplomacy, in what could be construed as a reference to Netanyahu’s warnings to the world against Iran’s “charm offensive.”
Unlike Kerry, Hagel asserted that Netanyahu is “legitimately concerned, as any prime minister of Israel has been, about the future security needs of their country” and that he did not think Netanyahu was trying to intentionally sabotage the talks.
Rouhani ‘not optimistic’ about nuclear talks
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that he was not optimistic about the success of nuclear talks with the West, echoing statements made by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on his Twitter page.
“The government is not optimistic about the Westerners and the current negotiations,” he was quoted as saying by Iranian news agency IRNA.
“But it does not mean that we should not have hope for removing the problems,” Rouhani added, referring to international sanctions that have crippled the Islamic Republic’s economy.
On Sunday, Khamenei tweeted that he was not optimistic about the outcome of the negotiations, and that even if they failed, it would increase Iran’s self-reliance.
“I am not optimistic about the negotiations but, with the grace of God, we will not suffer losses either,” Khamenei said. “I do not think the negotiations will produce the results expected by Iran.”
He advised against “trusting an enemy who smiles” and “expresses a desire for talks,” while on the other hand says “all options are on the table.”
Despite that, he backed Rouhani by urging hardliners in Tehran not to undermine the talks.
“No one should consider our negotiators as compromisers. This is wrong. These are our own children, the offspring of the Islamic Revolution,” Khamenei said.
“Our negotiators are in charge of a difficult task and no one should weaken an agent who is engaged doing work,” he added.
The next round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 group, made of the US, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain, is due to take place on Thursday and Friday in Geneva.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Iranian-Threat/News/Hagel-Israeli-threats-sanctions-helped-push-Iran-to-nuclear-talks-330569