Washington, Sept. 12 – U.S. President Barack Obama discussed Iran with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone on Monday and agreed to keep working together to prevent the Iranians from developing a nuclear weapon.
The two leaders "discussed the cooperation on Iran and other security issues and agreed to continue their close consultations going forward," a White House statement said. The call lasted around an hour.
Both leaders will deliver important speeches later this month at the United Nations General Assembly but the White House said their different schedules would not permit a meeting. Instead, Netanyahu is expected to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The U.S. presidential campaign is moving toward its climax and this has increased tensions and uncertainty on many issues, Iran among them.
Israel would like Obama to spell out clear “red lines” to the Iranians that would trigger U.S. military action against Iran. But the administration does not want to get locked into positions it fears could limit its flexibility.
Netanyahu, in remarks on Tuesday in Jerusalem, said Iran remained undeterred by the tough international sanctions imposed by the international community and was continuing to move forward with its weapons program.
“Now 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, toward obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs,” Netanyahu said at a joint news conference with the visiting Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov.
Netanyahu said that sanctions were hurting Iran's economy but not nearly enough to compel it to stop the nuclear program and said negotiations by the international community with Iran on the issue had failed.
Despite a European and U.S. embargo on Iranian oil, Asian nations keep buying oil from Iran. Its sales are down but Iran remains a top exporter.
Last week, Canada suspended diplomatic ties with Iran, closing its embassy there and branding the Islamic republic as a state sponsor of terrorism.
The announcement came in a statement by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who said, “Iran is among the world's worst violators of human rights which shelters and materially supports terrorist groups.”
"Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today,” said Baird, in Russia for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.