Iran: U.S. Deadline

Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Monday that U.S. efforts to engage Iran in talks over its disputed nuclear program are not “an open ended offer”.

In what could be interpreted as the setting of a deadline, Gates added that President Obama was hoping for a response to U.S. overtures “by the time of the UN General Assembly” in September.

Gates outlined the U.S. position at a joint press conference with Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Ehud Barak expressed impatience that the U.S. was even willing to talk to Iran.

He said that Israel believed any talks with Iran should be “short in time, well defined in objectives, followed by sanctions.”

Barak also reiterated that “no option” was off the table regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Repeating earlier veiled threats of an Israeli military strike on its arch rivals nuclear sites.

“This is our position,” said Barak. “We mean it.”

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates also repeated Washington’s pledge to stand by the Zionist state.

“We had a good meeting during which I reaffirmed the strong commitment of the United Sates to the security of Israel. As President (Barack) Obama said in Cairo last month our bond is unbreakable, “ he said.

“We also discussed the regional security challenges we both face from terrorism to the threat posed by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons”.

Iran has repeatedly denied it seeks nuclear weapons although Washington and Tel Aviv both dispute this.