President Obama’s selection of his new national security team has generated strong interest in Iran and Israel. The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said Tehran was hopeful that the nomination of Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon represents “practical changes” in U.S. policy toward Iran. Meanwhile, the visiting Israeli finance minister said in Washington that Israel hoped the administration issue an ultimatum threatening military action if Iran refuses to abandon its nuclear program.
Asked about Hagel's nomination, ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said today that Tehran was hopeful that there would be “practical changes” to U.S. foreign policy, and that Iran would change its attitude towards the U.S. if it respected its rights. (IRNA, 8 January)
Meanwhile, Israel pressed Obama for military threat against Iran if the nuclear talks fail. Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz was the latest member of Israel’s cabinet and national security establishment to come to Washington to press senior U.S. officials to lay out a tougher line on Iran’s nuclear activities.
The time has come for President Barack Obama to give Iran a “very clear ultimatum, very clear deadline combined with a very credible also military threat” Steinitz told a group of reporters in Washington this morning. (Bloomberg, 8 January)
Steinitz declined to comment on Obama’s announcement today that he will nominate Hagel as defense secretary, saying “it is not our custom to interfere in democratic procedures in other democracies.” Adding, “We will accept and respect any results, any decision made by the president and the Congress here.” (Bloomberg)