JERUSALEM, Israel -- A New York Times report has emerged claiming the United States and Iran are engaged in direct negotiations.
The news came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured the scene of an emergency drill to prepare Israelis for a possible earthquake. During his visit, he denied knowing about the direct talks.
"Israel doesn't know about these contacts and I can't confirm that they actually have taken place," Netanyahu told reporters.
"I can say that Iran has used the talks, the negotiations, with the five powers to drag its feet and to gain time to advance its nuclear weapons program," he added.
Netanyahu emphasized his desire to stop Iran's nuclear program.
"I believe that the best way to resolve peacefully the question of Iran's nuclear program is through even tougher sanctions and a credible military option, and as long as I am the prime minister of Israel, Israel will not enable Iran to reach nuclear weapons capability," Netanyahu said.
The New York Times report was published just two days before Monday's final presidential debate that will focus on foreign policy. Some in the Israeli media speculated the timing of the story was meant to blunt Mitt Romney's criticism of President Obama's Iran policy.
Romney has accused Obama of being too soft on Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. Both the White House and Iran denied the New York Times' report.