- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry responded to Israel’s demand for tighter sanctions against Iran with a few blunt sentences that shaped to a simple message: No.

The backdrop: Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Iran is nearly at the point of developing nuclear weaponry — that the country’s uranium production and conversion activities will yield it enough weapons-grade substance within weeks.

The prime minister said sanctions should not ease against Iran until four factors are met: Iran stops all uranium enrichment; international forces remove all its stores of enriched uranium; Iran shuts down its Qom underground facility; and the country halts its build of a nuclear reactor, Ynet News reported.

Mr. Netanyahu also warned that Iran’s promise to work with the international community on its nuclear program is a sham and cautioned the West to not be fooled.

And the latest: The White House says wait, not so fast. Let’s give Iran a chance to prove it’s serious about discussing its nuclear program.

Mr. Kerry said in a speech Monday night that diplomacy is best — not forceful sanctions, Ynet News reported.

The United States has “an opportunity to try to put to test whether or not Iran really desires to pursue only a peaceful program and will submit to the standards of the international community in the effort to prove that to the world,” he said, Ynet New reported. “I suggest that the idea that the United States of America, as a responsible nation to all of humankind, would not explore that possibility would be the height of irresponsibility.”

Mr. Kerry then seemed to speak directly to Mr. Netanyahu’s insistence for more force.

“Some have suggested that somehow there’s something wrong” with more diplomacy, he said. “We will not succumb to those fear tactics and forces that suggest otherwise.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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