Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will warn President Barack Obama at a meeting on Monday that Iran’s diplomatic “sweet talk” cannot be trusted and will urge him to pressure Tehran to prevent it being able to make a nuclear bomb.
While Obama will attempt to reassure Netanyahu that he will not act prematurely to ease sanctions on Iran, growing signs of a U.S.-Iranian thaw have rattled Israel and could make for a tense encounter between the two leaders, who have not always seen eye-to-eye on the Iranian nuclear dispute.
They will meet at the White House three days after Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by telephone - the highest-level contact between the countries in more than three decades - fueling hopes for a resolution of a decade-old Iranian nuclear standoff.
“Netanyahu does not care that he is the only one ruining the party,” an Israeli official said.
Obama is expected to voice sympathy for Israel’s skepticism about Iran, its arch-foe, but will make clear his determination to test Rouhani’s intentions and will press Netanyahu for time to do so, U.S. officials say.
For his part, Netanyahu will tell Obama that tough economic sanctions have succeeded in forcing Iran back to the negotiating table and “they should not be eased, quite the contrary, they should be tightened,” a second Israeli official said.
Netanyahu will urge Obama to reject any deal that calls for concessions by the West and instead demand specific steps by Iran, including shutting down their uranium enrichment and plutonium projects and shipping out their fissile material stocks.
“He will tell the president ‘better no deal than a bad deal,’” the official said.
The Obama administration has been vague on exactly what concessions it wants from Iran, and a source close to the White House said the president is expected to resist Israeli pressure for a precise time limit for diplomacy to produce an agreement.