Washington’s UN ambassador Samantha Power said in Israel on Monday that compliance with the Iran nuclear deal was so far “strong,” but warned Tehran was still helping fuel conflict and remained a threat.
“What this deal does if implemented — and so far the implementation has been strong but it’s very early days — is it cuts off the pathways to a nuclear weapon and it gives us much more visibility into Iran’s program than we had before,” Power told a group of Israeli students.
She added later that “Iran of course is still a threat. Iran is supporting terrorism. Iran is supporting parties to conflict like the Assad regime (in Syria)”.
Last July’s Vienna agreement between Iran and the permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) sees sanctions lifted in return for Tehran ensuring its nuclear program remains for civilian use.
Israel strongly opposed the deal with its arch-foe, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning it would not block Iran’s path to nuclear weapons.
He also said lifting sanctions would allow Iran to further back proxy militants in the region, including terror groups such as Hezbollah.
Netanyahu’s outspoken criticism of the accord, particularly in a speech to the US Congress, led to a rift with US President Barack Obama’s administration.
He has since scaled back his rhetoric, and the United States and Netanyahu’s government are currently negotiating a new 10-year defence aid package expected to be an increase over the current $3.1 billion Israel receives annually.
Power has met Israeli and Palestinian leaders during her visit, expected to end Tuesday.
She said Washington’s aim was to move the two sides towards “being in a position to restart the negotiations, which is not a position they are in right now”.
Power met Netanyahu earlier Monday and said they discussed “steps that could be taken to preserve prospects” for a two-state solution.
They also discussed the conflict in Syria and the threat from the Islamic State group, she said.
The envoy also met with Jewish and Arab children at a Jerusalem school targeted in a 2014 arson attack.
Power’s visit comes amid a wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks that erupted in October and has killed over 25 Israelis, as well as an Eritrean, an American and a Palestinian bystander.