US Spokesperson: Public Iran Nuclear Redlines ‘Not Useful’

Offered multiple opportunities to spell out American red lines on Iran’s nuclear ambitions—which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publically urged the international community to do—a US spokesperson said announcing such lines is “not useful.”

“The American people know that the President [Barack Obama] has said, unequivocally, he will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. I’m not going to get into how you unpack exactly what, who, how, when,” Victoria Nuland was quoted as saying on Monday in comments released by the State Department. “…So we are absolutely firm about the President’s commitment here, but it is not useful to be parsing it, to be setting deadlines one way or the other, redlines.”

Nuland noted the US is still discussing Iran with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other nations—including Israel.

“It is most important that we stay intensely focused on the pressure on Iran, the opportunity for Iran to fix this situation through the diplomacy that we’ve offered, and intensive consultations with Israel and all the other regional states, as we are doing,” said Nuland.

However, her comments appear to oppose the public call from Netanyahu to set “a clear red line” on Iran.

Neatanyahu was quoted by a press statement as saying last week of Iran, “This is a brutal regime that is racing ahead with its nuclear program, because it doesn’t see a clear red line from the international community.  And it doesn’t see the necessary resolve and determination from the international community. The greater the resolve and the clearer the red line, the less likely we’ll have conflict.”

Iran has made incremental progress towards nuclear power—and weapons—by continuing to defy the international community’s demands they end suspicious nuclear work and further open up their program to the IAEA.

While they are not believed to have achieved nuclear weapons’ grade nuclear fuel yet, they have made significant progress towards that level by enriching uranium to a civilian research grade. However, their quantities of enrichment to that research-level have led to suspicions from the UK and others that Iran is laying the groundwork for moving towards a functional nuclear weapons program.

Nuland dodged questions about the apparent disagreement between the US and Israel on public red lines. “Prime Minister Netanyahu today, or yesterday, made absolutely clear in his own public statements that we are in a constant dialogue. So from that perspective, we are in absolute agreement on the necessity to stay in conversation, to do it constantly going forward. And we will do that.

“…We need to continue to work through these issues, make sure that we are comparing notes on what we are seeing, make sure we are comparing notes on the best way to increase the pressure on Iran to come clean with the international community and come back into compliance. And that is what we are doing.”

Netanyahu Praises Canada

The red line issue comes just days after Canada decided to expel the Iranian ambassador to the country and close it’s embassy in Tehran, suspending diplomatic relations with Iran in a move that elicited praise from Netanyahu on Sunday.

Netanyahu then took another opportunity to raise the red line issue, which was effectively dismissed by the US one day later.

“I call on the entire international community, or at least on its responsible members, to follow in Canada’s determined path and set Iran moral and practical red lines, lines that will stop its race to achieve nuclear weapons,” the Israeli leader was quoted in press release as saying.

In a press release from the Canadian foreign affairs ministry, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on Friday listed a range of concerns on Iran, ranging from threatening Israel to its nuclear program to not protecting diplomatic personnel in its country. Baird expressed worries about the ongoing safety of Canadian diplomatic personnel in Iran.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, September 10, 2012)