Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and President Obama, May 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
It’s no surprise that the latest round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 ended with no deal. That much was predicted by all, especially since Iran is getting ready for what promises to be a contentious and controversial presidential election in June. But it’s instructive to contrast the reactions from American officials and Israeli officials to the lack of a breakthrough in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where the talks took place on Friday and Saturday.
Listen first to an American official, speaking on background to The New York Times:
There may not have been a breakthrough, but there also was not a breakdown.
Then, listen to an Israeli official, Yuval Steinitz, the minister of strategic affairs:
This failure was predictable. Israel has already warned that the Iranians are exploiting the talks in order to play for time while making additional progress in enriching uranium for an atomic bomb.… The time has come for the world to take a more assertive stand and make it unequivocally clear to the Iranians that the negotiations games have run their course.
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal on the occasion of Secretary of State John Kerry’s arrival in Israel, Steinitz was even more, well, hysterical, demanding threats and short deadlines:
Israel has already warned that the Iranians are exploiting the talks in order to play for time while making additional progress in enriching uranium for an atomic bomb. Israel believes that without a significant and tangible threat, including a short timetable, it is clear that achieving the dismantling of the nuclear project will not be possible.
But Kerry, and the Obama administration, are having none of that. Said Kerry, in Istanbul on his way to Israel, according to the Journal:
There was somewhat of a gap that remains, obviously, as a consequence of the discussions that they had in Almaty. But the door is still open to doing that, and yes, indeed, it is important to continue to talk and to try to find the common ground.