Netanyahu, U.S. Lawmakers Agree on Need To Stop Iran's Nuclear Program

By Haaretz Service

Published May 19, 2009.

Israel and the United States agreed on Tuesday that Iran must not be allowed to continue its contentious nuclear program, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. lawmakers said Tuesday following talks in Washington.

“I was assured by President [Barack] Obama [on Monday] that the U.S. is committed to preventing that from happening,” Netanyahu said a day of meetings with several U.S. lawmakers, including prominent Jewish members of Congress.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Minority Leader John Boehner told reporters following their meeting with Netanyahu that they are committed to ensuring Iran is unable to develop a nuclear weapon. “It is important for all of us to work together to be sure that Iran does not develop a weapon of mass destruction,” Pelosi said after emerging from the meeting with Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said a nuclear-armed Iran would post a threat to Arab countries in the region as well as the United States, warning Tehran could provide terrorists with a nuclear device.

“The consequences could be unimaginable,” Netanyahu told Pelosi and Boehner.

Obama said Monday after his first official talks with Netanyahu that the U.S. would not have talks forever on stopping Iran’s enrichment of uranium.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday said that Israel’s public backing of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not cause Iran to abandon it’s nuclear program.

“These… words will not cause Iran to stop its centrifuges. Israel has already said in the past ‘two states for two peoples’ and this didn’t cause the Palestinians to fall into our arms and reach all the tough decisions that are required,” said Barak during a tour of the Israel Defense Forces Central Command.

Barak’s comments came amid mounting international pressure on Netanyahu to declare support for a Palestinian state, which the prime minister has refrained from doing.

Barak added that Israel was not ruling out any course of action against Iran’s nuclear program, and that he advised other countries to do the same.

“Israel is not taking any option off the table and we recommend others not to take options off the table,” he said.

The statement was apparently directed toward the United States, which has embarked on a new diplomatic policy toward the Islamic Republic under President Barak Obama.

In comments published Sunday, Obama said he understood Israel’s fears over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but added that he wanted to offer the country an opportunity to align itself with international norms and international rules.

Barak said he had spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had updated him on his meeting with Obama on Monday.

“I think that we have begun a serious dialogue with the Americans,” he said. “It will take time and it will encompass all of the subjects.”



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