Policy & Strategy

US: Israel ‘supportive’ of new Iranian sanctions if nuclear talks fail

“We are working with our partners, including the Israelis,
to talk about additional steps to enhance the pressure,” Cohen said.

{mosads}”We have today and over the past years had very close
cooperation with the Israeli government across a range of our sanctions
programs,” he said. “They are a very good partner. They are creative. They are
supportive and we will continue to consult with the Israelis.”

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.”

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