Fri, 26 Dec 2008 16:12:56 GMT
Israel has reportedly stepped up efforts to block the prospect of high-level negotiations between Washington and the Islamic Republic.
In a Friday interview with Japan's Kyodo, Israeli President Shimon Peres advised US President-elect Barack Obama to shelve his plans to hold direct talks with Tehran until after the presidential elections in Iran -- scheduled for June 12, 2009.
Peres claimed that if the negotiations take place before the Iranian elections, it is highly likely to "affect the results of the elections".
The Israeli push comes after Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi, a close aide to the Iranian president, announced on Wednesday that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would "certainly run for a second term".
Barack Obama has promised to jettison the Bush administration's policy of isolating Tehran and to hold unconditional talks with senior Iranian officials.
Israeli officials have adamantly opposed Washington-Tehran rapprochement and have strived to sabotage the possibility of finding a resolution for the nearly three-decade stand off between the two countries.
In a November meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni warned that the stated readiness Obama has to hold talks with Iran signifies only "weakness".
Pro-Israeli think tanks and lobbies such as AIPAC and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) have also underscored Livni's warning against dialogue with Iran.
Israel's chief of army intelligence Amos Yadlin, however, disputed Livni's remarks and supported the idea of direct negotiations with Iran in an unprecedented lecture in November.
"Rapprochement with Iran, while insisting on clearly defined parameters for the halting of the Iranian nuclear program, isn't necessarily negative," the intelligence official said in a Tel Aviv University lecture.
Former Foreign Ministry official Alon Liel has commented that "There is a decision in the Israeli system that Obama's Iran policy shouldn't be viewed as an anti-Israeli move."
Support for a US diplomatic boycott of Tehran has been the dominant Israeli approach for years. Tel Aviv says Iran's nuclear program poses an 'existential threat' to Israel.
Iran has rejected the allegation, insisting that its nuclear activities are directed at the civilian applications of the technology.
The pertinent UN body dealing with nuclear programs stated in its latest report that the agency "has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran".
The UN nuclear watchdog also conceded that there has been "no indication" that Iran conducts nuclear reprocessing activities.
Iran nevertheless has been urged to increase its cooperation with the agency to resolve the controversy surrounding the "alleged studies" of weaponization attributed to Tehran by Western countries.
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