By Jeremy Herb - 06/04/12 07:58 PM EDT
“We are working with our partners, including the Israelis, to talk about additional steps to enhance the pressure," Cohen said.
Cohen’s comments come as the Obama administration continues to push Israel not to launch a military attack on Iran’s nuclear program, something the Israelis have suggested they could do on their own.
President Obama instead wants a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear issues, and administration officials have said sanctions passed last year have helped bring Iran back to the negotiating table.
Two rounds of talks in the past two months have produced some optimism, but not much in terms of substantive gains.
Taking a step of further sanctions should the talks fail — particularly with Israeli support — would help blunt potential criticism against the Obama administration for trying to negotiate with Tehran, a move that has drawn some GOP criticism.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau has expressed skepticism of both sanctions and negotiations, calling the latter a “free pass” for Iran and that sanctions have failed to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, while the United States, Israel and other allies suspect Iran of seeking nuclear weapons.
Cohen defended the sanctions to Haaretz, saying there was “no question that the sanctions have been effective.”
“The important point for the Israeli public to understand and for the Iranian leadership to understand is that if we are not able to make progress on the diplomatic track there is additional pressure that can be brought to bear on the pressure track,” he said. “If we don't get a breakthrough in Moscow there is no question we will continue to ratchet up the pressure.”