* Third round of nuclear talks in Moscow on June 18-19
* Israeli assent to diplomatic track may ward off war
By Dan Williams
JERUSALEM, June 4 The United States is
conferring with Israel about new sanctions planned against Iran
should international negotiations this month fail to curb the
Islamic Republic's nuclear programme, a U.S. official said on
The comment offered a strong hint that Washington is
continuing to apply the brakes on any plan by Israel to attack
Iranian nuclear facilities preemptively.
Israel has signalled increasing impatience with the lack of
progress towards circumscribing the nuclear programme during the
negotiations, involving Iran, the United States and five other
world powers. The third round of talks will be hosted by Russia
on June 18-19.
"If we don't get a breakthrough in Moscow there is no
question we will continue to ratchet up the pressure," David
Cohen, U.S. Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial
intelligence, told Haaretz newspaper during a visit to Israel.
The United States and European Union have already made clear
they will stiffen sanctions should Iran pursue uranium
enrichment, a process that can yield fuel for warheads though it
insists the objective is civilian energy and medical isotopes.
Cohen stressed the depth of the U.S.-Israeli partnership.
"We have today and over the past years had very close
cooperation with the Israeli government across a range of our
sanctions programmes," he said. "They are creative. They are
supportive and we will continue to consult with the Israelis."
Cohen made similar comments to Army Radio, a major Israeli
broadcaster, during his 36-hour visit, when he was to meet with
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's senior security staff.
In a speech last week, Netanyahu said world powers must both
beef up sanctions and demand an immediate end to all uranium
enrichment by Iran, whose mid-level 20 percent purification has
been the focus of earlier negotiations.
Israel is reputed to have the region's only atomic arsenal
and many international experts, including the top U.S. military
officer, General Martin Dempsey, have voiced doubt in the
ability of its conventional forces to deliver lasting damage to
Iran's distant, dispersed and well-defended nuclear facilities.
The Israelis have hinted that delaying Iran's progress could
justify a unilateral strike. Ensuing Iranian reprisals would
risk drawing in the United States, which has not ruled out force
against Tehran but is loath to launch a new military campaign in
the Muslim world.
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by John Stonestreet)