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Israel Unhappy at U.S. Approach to Curbing Iran’s Nuclear Program

September 11, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his frustration at his sense of America's lack of action in stopping Iran's progress in developing nuclear weapons. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton maintained the U.S. wouldn't set deadlines for diplomatic action to stop Iran from enriching uranium. Margaret Warner reports.
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JEFFREY BROWN: A new row has erupted with a key U.S. ally, Israel, over Iran’s uranium enrichment program. There were harsh criticisms of U.S. policy from Israel’s leader today and word that President Obama won’t have time to meet with him next month.

Margaret Warner has the story.

MARGARET WARNER: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t bother to conceal his unhappiness with the Obama administration today over its handling of the Iran nuclear issue.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israel: If Iran knows that there is no red line, if Iran knows that there is no deadline, what will it do? Exactly what it’s doing.

It’s continuing without any interference towards obtaining nuclear weapons capability and, from there, nuclear bombs. Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.

MARGARET WARNER: The statement seemed to come in response to comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the weekend. She told Bloomberg News that the U.S. is not setting deadlines for diplomatic efforts to get Iran to stop enriching uranium.

Today, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland sought to play down any tensions between the U.S. and Israel on the Iran issue.

VICTORIA NULAND, State Department: I’m not going to comment today on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statements.

But as we said yesterday, we are in continuous consultation with the government of Israel, with our allies there on what we are seeing in Iran, on the path forward. And we will continue to do so.

But we don’t think it’s particularly useful to have those conversations in public. It doesn’t help the process and it doesn’t help the integrity of the diplomacy.

MARGARET WARNER: Late today, multiple reports out of Israel said President Obama has refused to meet with Netanyahu during the U.N. General Assembly opening in two weeks.

White House officials confirmed there would be no meeting, but said the president’s tight schedule precluded bilateral talks with any world leaders at the U.N.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency has new intelligence that Iran is taking new steps toward building a nuclear weapon.

The report said the Islamic republic has done computer modeling of the high explosives needed to create a nuclear chain reaction in a warhead.