U.S. says time remains for diplomatic outcome in Iran

Despite assertions that Iran is approximately six months away from the capacity to develop nuclear weapons, time still remains to pursue a diplomatic outcome, the White House said on Saturday.

Ben Rhodes, the White House's deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, made the remarks during a conference call on Saturday. When asked about the administration's response to recent assertions by Israel that Iran is just six months away from developing a nuclear bomb, Rhodes said the U.S. thinks there is time to take a diplomatic approach.

"We coordinate very closely with the Israeli government in terms of our monitoring of the Iranian nuclear program," Rhodes said. "So we have, through our security dialogue, through contacts from the head-of-state level on down, I think very regular exchanges with them. We share, again, a set of concerns about the Iranian program. At the same time, it's our assessment that there is time to pursue a diplomatic outcome, particularly given the pressure that we've put in place."

Rhodes said President Barack Obama exchanged letters with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani indicating an openness to pursue a diplomatic path. The correspondences also stressed a need for Iran to take concrete actions demonstrating that the country will pursue its international obligations.

In addition, Rhodes highlighted the importance of the P5+1 to address the nuclear issue.

"I'd just also underscore that even as we understand the importance of the differences that we have bilaterally with Iran, the reason the P5+1 is so important is it sends a signal that the international community is united in insisting that Iran meet its obligations," Rhodes said. "And that's why the center of gravity as it relates to a lot of our efforts to address a nuclear issue are going to continue to be through the P5+1."