McCain: New US, Israel 'red lines' needed on Iran's nuclear program

Recent political developments in Israel has opened up a "broader range of [political] support" in the country and created a small window for both countries to take a stronger stance against Iran's nuclear ambitions via these joint "red lines",  Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Monday. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Red lines are essentially U.S. or Israeli-imposed limits on how far Iran can go in terms of advancing their nuclear program. Should Iran any one of these red lines, it could trigger a military response by either Washington or Tel Aviv. 

A long-standing red line set by the United States is Tehran cannot move their self-proclaimed nuclear enrichment program into a full-fledged weapons development effort. 

In February, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress there has been no evidence the Iranian program has crossed any one of the red lines established by the United States. 

The Arizona Republican did not go into details during his speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on what types of limitations those new U.S-Israeli red lines should include.

But he did note that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's successful effort to unify his Likud party with the opposing Kadima party could set the political groundwork for establishing those new red lines. 

The move, finalized between Netanyahu and Kadima Party leader Shaul Mofaz last Tuesday ushered in the largest Israeli coalition government in recent history. 

Those new red lines on Iran's nuclear program could generate some much needed international pressure on Tehran ahead of a new round of negotiations with Western powers this month. 

Iran and members of the P5+1 group — the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany -- are set to meet in Baghdad this month. 

The Baghdad meeting is the second round of nuclear talks between the two groups, which began in April. 

McCain reiterated on Monday that he was "not optimistic" that any progress will be made during the talks in Baghdad. 

"We have seen this movie before" McCain said on Monday, where aspiring nuclear powers like Iran and North Korea use negotiations to try and alleviate international sanctions with false promises of increased access and oversight into their country's nuclear programs. 

That said, there is no doubt that sactions are "seriously hurting" Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime, according to McCain 

However, the United States and the rest of the international community "has yet to see an erosion of support" for a nuclear Iran among the country's populous. 

Along with sanctions, a new joint U.S.-Israeli slate of restrictions could turn that tide of support against Ahmadinejad and the nuclear program. 

The Arizona Republican went further, claiming that "behind closed doors, there would be celebrations" among the various Arab states in the region, if the Iranian nuclear program was taken off line. 

Despite Israel's new coalition government, the chances of Israel and the United States coming together on a new set of red lines is slim, considering the contentious back and forth between the White House and Netanyahu in recent months. 

Netanyahu has been skeptical of sanctions and said during a visit to Washington in March that sanctions have not worked so far, warning that time was running short before Israel had to act.

The Obama administration has argued the ongoing talks could lead to a diplomatic solution, while pressing Netanyahu not to attack Iran. However, Obama has said repeatedly that all options for the United States remain on the table, including a military one.