Israeli officials were taken aback on Monday when the Obama Administration, which had previously vowed to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons, insisted that it would set no deadlines for Iranian compliance with international demands.
"We're not setting deadlines," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters after being asked how Washington would respond to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's insistence that the West must do more to halt Iran's defiant nuclear program.
Clinton's spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, later added, "...it is not useful...to be setting deadlines one way or the other, red lines."
"Without a firm and clear red line, Iran won't stop its race for a nuclear weapon," an unnamed Israeli government official told The Times of Israel. "Words like these don't only not deter Iran, they calm it."
The official's remarks echoed Netanyahu's warning earlier this week that the lack of international determination was only encouraging Iran to continue its quest for nuclear arms.
"I think what is important to realize is that Iran will not stop unless it sees clear determination by the democratic countries of the world and a clear red line," Netanyahu said in an interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) after Canada became the first Western power to sever ties with Iran over its threatening nuclear ambitions.
A recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) backed up Netanyahu's assessment, noting that in recent years Iran's nuclear research and achievements had accelerated, and that there was evidence Iran intends to build nuclear warheads.
Speaking to Israel's Arutz Sheva radio station, former Israeli ambassador to the US Zalman Shoval said it was time for Israel to realize that, "as usual, we are alone" in dealing with this new threat.