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Iran not making nuclear weapons yet: US

Washington: Iran is not currently on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon, the White House has said noting that the US would know if they were to make a move to developing such a weapon.

"We know that they are not currently on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon. We would know if they were to make a so-called breakout move towards developing such a weapon," the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, told reporters travelling with the US President, Barack Obama, on Air Force One from Washington to Las Vegas, Nevada on Wednesday.

A nuclear power reactor in Iran.

Obama, Carney said, has also made clear that there is time and space to pursue a diplomatic resolution to this problem through sanctions and other means, as well as diplomacy, to pressure the Iranian regime into forsaking its nuclear weapons ambitions.

"We have the capacity to monitor the Iranian nuclear program. And we know that they are not currently on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon. We would know if they were to make a so-called breakout move towards developing such a weapon," Carney said.

At the same time, the US President has made clear that the window of opportunity to resolve this diplomatically will not remain open indefinitely, he said.

"Our efforts to sanction Iran punitively, to isolate Iran, to make the regime pay a high price for its obstinacy continue. The President and the Prime Minister are in total agreement on the policy objective here," he said.

Responding to questions, Carney said Israel, as a sovereign nation, has a right to defend itself. "The President of the United States is committed to Israel's security. We have an unprecedentedly deep and broad relationship with Israel under this administration when it comes to military and intelligence matters. We have provided unprecedented levels of assistance to Israel in the effort to achieve security for Israel, and we will continue to do that," he said.

Carney reiterated that there will be no meeting between Obama and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in New York later this month, mainly because of scheduling conflict.

"The President will be in New York at the United Nations General Assembly early in that week; the Prime Minister does not arrive until later in that week. There was not logistically an opportunity for the two leaders to meet in New York. A meeting was never requested in Washington, therefore it could not have been denied," he said.

"I think it is important to note, within the context of this discussion in the press, that it is proof of the incredibly close and vital relationship between our two nations and between our two governments that when this issue arose, the President of the United States picked up the phone and called Prime Minister Netanyahu and spoke to him for an hour," he said.

"That demonstrates the kind of relationship we have, and it reinforces something that I think sometimes is forgotten, which is there is no leader with whom President Obama has met and spoken with more frequently as President
than Prime Minister Netanyahu," he said.

"And that, again, is reflective of the kind of relationship we have with Israel," Carney said.

PTI