Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday welcomed comments by U.S. President Barack Obama damping down talk of war against Tehran over its controversial nuclear drive.
“This talk is good talk and shows an exit from illusion,” Khamenei’s website quoted the leader as telling clerics from the Assembly of Experts.
Obama on Tuesday said that Iran’s nuclear program was not an immediate threat, arguing a “window” for diplomacy could forestall an Iranian bomb, while slamming Republican candidates for their hawkish statements demanding military action on the Islamic republic.
Shortage of gas in Israel
Meanwhile, an Israeli MP in charge of home front preparations has told AFP that Israel’s leaders are “wantonly disregarding” the country’s ability to cope with a war as tensions rise over a possible confrontation with Iran.
Zeev Bielsky, who heads the parliamentary committee for home front preparedness, said there was a dire shortage of gas masks ready for use in the event of a war.
“Today, only 60 percent of Israelis ̶ 4.5-5 million people ̶ have gas masks,” he said.
“We must be prepared at any moment for any possible scenario, and today we are completely unprepared,” said Bielsky, who is an MP with Kadima, the center-right opposition party.
The shortage of masks was the result of the government failing to allocate sufficient funds to the two Israeli factories that produce the masks, he charged.
With the current state of turmoil in the region, it was no less than “wanton disregard” that the government was “not providing this basic product, which every citizen should have,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Israel Postal Company, which is responsible for distributing the masks, told AFP earlier this week that so far, they had distributed approximately four million gas masks, and currently had less than 100,000 left.
“This is all we have. It is not enough for all Israeli citizens. When we have more, we'll distribute more,” said Meirav Lapidot, admitting she had no indication if and when they would receive additional masks.
Meanwhile, six world powers that are poised to restart talks with Iran look set to agree on Thursday a unified stance voicing concern over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, diplomats at the United Nations’ nuclear agency said.
Western envoys said a joint statement had been agreed that expressed concern about Iran’s refusal to grant U.N. nuclear inspectors access to sites they want to see as part of their investigation into fears Tehran is seeking weapons capability.
No specific site is mentioned in the draft statement by the six powers - the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, and Britain - but the text appears to be a reference to the Parchin military facility, southeast of Tehran.