NEW YORK — Jerusalem and Washington are in sync regarding the Iranian nuclear program, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told The Times of Israel on Thursday afternoon, in a first reaction to the speech in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his call for clear red lines for Iran.
Shapiro also said the US had made “the necessary preparations” for a resort to force against Iran if that were to prove necessary.
“We’re totally focused on the same goal, which is preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We’re in the closest possible consultations at the highest levels of our government,” Shapiro said in the brief interview, at the United Nations, minutes after Netanyahu concluded his address. “We’re absolutely focused on achieving that goal together. And we’ve been very well coordinated until now and I think we will remain very well coordinated.”
In recent days, the question of setting clear red lines and deadlines has caused an unprecedented diplomatic crisis between Israel and the US. Shapiro himself was present at a reportedly tense meeting between Netanyahu and visiting Congressman and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, during which the envoy was said to disagree with the prime minister about how President Barack Obama was handling the Iranian threat.
Netanyahu has called for the international community, led by the US, to establish red lines that, if crossed by Iran, would prompt a military response. However, so far, Washington has refused to do so. Addressing the General Assembly on Tuesday, Obama reiterated his position that there was still time for diplomacy to solve the Iranian question, but added that time wasn’t unlimited.
“Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained,” Obama said. “It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy.” The US “will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Obama said.
During his speech at the United Nations, Netanyahu painted a thick red line on a cartoon bomb that was supposed to delineate where the international community should draw the red line he urges regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
“The red line should be drawn right here… before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb. Before Iran gets to a point where it’s a few months away or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon,” Netanyahu said.
“The red line must be drawn on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program because these enrichment facilities are the only nuclear installations that we can definitely see and credibly target.”
Speaking to The Times of Israel, Shapiro said there were no tangible differences between Jerusalem and the White House.
‘We made very clear that we’re going to do everything we need to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That includes having a military option on the table’
“What both speeches and the constant dialogue of the two governments demonstrate is that we’re absolutely committed to the same goal: We recognize the threat that’s posed by an Iran with nuclear weapons — to Israel and its existence, to US interests and security and stability throughout the Middle East and that’s why we’re determined to prevent it,” he said. He also said there was an “overlap” in the two speeches, which showed that it was possible to work together to reach the goal of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.
Asked if American public opinion would support a military intervention in case sanctions and diplomacy failed to thwart Tehran’s race to nuclear weaponry, Shapiro said: “We made very clear that we’re going to do everything we need to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That includes having a military option on the table.”
“The necessary preparations have been taken to make sure that’s the case,” the envoy added. “I’ll leave it at that rather than address public opinion.”