Despite Israeli concerns over a recent drive by the US to engage Iran diplomatically, Washington agrees with Israel that Tehran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon, US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said Monday.
Shapiro added that sanctions against Iran wouldn’t be lifted until Tehran took significant steps and proved it had given up on its military program.
Speaking to Israel Radio, Shapiro said Jerusalem and Washington have “the same main goals” regarding the Iranian issue “and our leaders agree on these goals: The main goal is stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in the US, where he will hold talks with US President Barack Obama and other top administration officials Monday before delivering a speech at the United Nations General Assembly the next day. Netanyahu said the meeting and speech are designed to “tell the truth” about Iran, and will likely include entreating the US and the West to see recent turns by Tehran toward détente as a cover for its nuclear program.
Shapiro said Israel and the US shared their intelligence and findings on the Iranian program, dismissing the likelihood that Netanyahu would show Obama new material which would convince him to stop the recent warming of relations between the countries.
Both leaders “agree it’s better to try and solve this problem through diplomatic means, and both agree that smiles and kind words from the new Iranian government aren’t enough,” Shapiro said. “Rather [Iran] needs to take concrete and verifiable steps that can lead to significant change… through which we can be sure Iran will not obtain nuclear weapons.”
“We’re at the beginning of a process, and it’s too early to know exactly in what direction the process will continue,” Shapiro replied when asked about a possible easing of the sanctions placed on the Islamic republic.
He then quoted from Obama’s statement after a historic phone conversation with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani on Friday, saying it would take significant steps from Tehran before sanctions were lifted. For such a move, Shapiro said, “we need to see what will happen and how serious the other side is.”