Source AP ©

U.S. and Israel hold talks on Iran

Israel’s defense minister and armed forces chief met with the United States' top military commander ti discuss Iran’s suspended nuclear program.

The Israeli Defense Ministry said Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Adm. Mike Mullen discussed "a range of regional security issues." It did not elaborate, but Mullen's spokesman was quoted in a newspaper interview as saying that Iran would be among the subjects discussed.

Mullen's one-day visit to Israel was the first in a decade by a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. armed forces. It came as Israel and the administration of U.S. President George. W. Bush sought to keep up the push for tougher sanctions against Iran, despite the publication last week of the report saying Tehran stopped attempts to build a nuclear bomb in 2003.

"The Iranians have tried in the past to develop their nuclear capabilities, they can still develop them," The Jerusalem Post daily quoted Mullen spokesman John Kirby as saying."They have tried it and they support terror groups in the region."

The U.S. report reversed years of conclusions that Iran was working on a nuclear weapon

Speaking at an international security conference in Bahrain on Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the intelligence estimate also indicated that Iran could restart its nuclear weapons program at any time, "if it has not done so already."

In that speech, Gates appealed to Persian Gulf nations to support penalties designed to force Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for a reactor or fissile material for a weapon. Those nations, he said, also should demand that Iran "openly affirm that it does not intend to develop nuclear weapons in the future."

Iran says its program is aimed at using nuclear reactors to generate electricity and has rebuffed U.S. demands that it cease enrichment.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that the U.S. report would not change Israel's view that Iran is continuing to pursue nuclear arms and is developing rockets and enriching uranium.