US President Barack Obama’s sanctions chief was due in Israel on Friday for three days of high-level talks on the Iran nuclear deal, in a bid to reassure Israel that Washington will “intensify” sanctions against Hezbollah and combat Iran’s “malign activities.”
Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin was scheduled to meet with Dore Gold, director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unofficial point-man on Iran, according to Reuters.
Netanyahu has called the Iran deal a “historic mistake” and worked to thwart it, recently reportedly telling members of Congress there is “a moral duty” to prevent its implementation. He says it paves Iran’s path to the bomb, and that the sanctions relief will be used by Iran to fund terror and negative activities throughout the region.
The Treasury said Szubin would “emphasize the United States’ commitment to increasing cooperation with Israel to combat Iran’s support for terrorism and other destabilizing activity in the region.”
“I plan to focus on the JCPOA, but also on Treasury’s continued efforts to target Iran’s malign activities,” Szubin said, according to The New York Times.
He said he would discuss deepening sanctions against Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards during his Israel visit.
“Intensifying those sanctions and ensuring that they bite ever deeper is a core part of my mission,” he said. “We plan to enforce them with all the toughness that people have come to expect from the US Treasury.”
Also Friday, President Barack Obama was set to speak directly to the North American Jewish community about the Iran nuclear deal via a live webcast to shore up support for the agreement.
US Vice President Joe Biden is also set meet with American Jewish leaders in Florida on September 3 to make the case for the Iran nuclear deal.
The Israeli government and many American Jewish organizations oppose the deal, as do most congressional Republicans. Congress will vote in September on whether to approve the deal reached between six world powers, including the United States, and Iran. Obama has vowed to veto any legislation aimed at blocking the deal.
JTA contributed to this report.