Israel Sees Proposed Solution to Syrian Problem as a Template for Iran

Syria's readiness to consider relinquishing its stockpiles of chemical weapons in hopes of evading punitive strikes by the US military should serve as a template for the international community's strategy in confronting a nuclear-driven Iran, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.
Israeli officials are closely monitoring the latest diplomatic developments on the Syrian front, according to Israel Radio.

Officials in Jerusalem told Israel Radio on Tuesday that while they were skeptical of Syria's willingness to hand over its chemical weapons stockpile in hopes of warding off a US military assault, the very proposal is proof that a real, credible military threat "gets the job done."

"When the Americans deploy their warships in the Mediterranean, the Syrians get scared and say they are ready to consider placing their arsenal of unconventional weapons under international inspection, and perhaps even giving up those weapons altogether," a source told Israel Radio.

"Iran, too, will change its approach on the issue of its nuclear program if there will be a real, credible threat against it," the source said.

Washington, however, appears to be holding out hope that it can solve the Iranian impasse through diplomacy. US President Barack Obama is eager to "turn a new page" in his government's relations with Iran and its newly installed president, Hassan Rouhani, it was revealed on Tuesday.

According to the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, Obama communicated his message to the Tehran regime through an emissary, the ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said.

Washington has called on Iran to move beyond rhetoric take practical steps which demonstrate its willingness to improve ties with the West, according to Al-Hayat.

Rouhani vowed that Tehran "will not give up one iota" of its nuclear rights, the Mehr news agency reported on Tuesday.

Rouhani reportedly made the remarks to a group of clerics in Iran.

"Our government will not give up one iota of its absolute rights" on the nuclear issue, Rouhani said. 

Last week, the United States voiced disappointment that Iran's new president has not moved more swiftly to allay international concerns about the country's atomic program, saying Tehran is undermining hopes of ending its nuclear standoff with the West.

Rouhani said on Thursday the foreign ministry would take over talks with world powers on Iran's contested nuclear program, an apparent move to smooth the diplomatic process after years of control by conservative Iranian hardliners.

However, US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power did not sound impressed with Rouhani's initial steps on Iran's nuclear program, which Western powers suspect is aimed at developing the capability to produce atomic weapons - a charge Tehran vehemently denies.

"Like others here, the United States hopes that the inauguration of President Rouhani creates an opportunity for Iran to act quickly to resolve the international community's serious concerns about Iran's nuclear intentions," Power told a meeting of the 15-nation Security Council on Iran sanctions.

"Unfortunately, we have not yet seen any clear signs that Iran is committed to addressing the most pressing concerns about its nuclear program," Power said. "To the contrary, recent developments trouble us."

Last week, the UN nuclear watchdog said Iran plans to test about 1,000 advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges it has completed installing.

"Rather than take steps to meet the obligations imposed by this Security Council, Iran is installing advanced centrifuges, which may be two to three times more efficient at enriching uranium than its current centrifuges," Power said.

Iran has been hit with four rounds of UN sanctions for refusing to halt its nuclear enrichment program and other sensitive activities.

Reuters contributed to this story.

SOURCE: The Jerusalem Post
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