Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a group of visiting US Senators
on Friday that if reelected he will work to stop Iran's illicit nuclear
"My priority, if I'm elected for a next term as prime minister, will be first to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons," he
told the group, which included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
(R-KY). "I think that was and remains the highest priority for both our
countries. I appreciate the American support and your support for that
Even as Netanyahu refocused on the Iranian threat, the UN nuclear agency chief said Friday
he was not optimistic about talks with Iran next week on getting access
to a military base Western powers suspect has been used for
atomic-weapons related work.
"The outlook is not bright," Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in Tokyo.
Western powers say Iran is trying to develop the capability to make atomic weapons, a charge the Islamic Republic denies.
Amano said in Japanese comments translated into English: "Talks with
Iran don't proceed in a linear way. It's one step forward, two or three
steps back ... So we can't say we have an optimistic outlook" for the
January 16 meeting.
the meeting with Netanyahu, Senator McConnell touted strong bipartisan
support for Israel in the United States, even while the Republican and
Democrat parties face off on other issues.
"As everybody in
Israel knows, there are a lot of things we disagree on in America, we've
had big battles over deficit and debt, but there's broad bipartisan
support for Israel, and our agenda in this part of the world is the same
as your agenda," he said. "You're one of our best friends and we're
happy to continue that relationship."
US President Barack Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel
to the defense secretary position raised eyebrows in Jerusalem and
among pro-Israel politicians in the US, concerned over the former
Senator's Israel record. Critics accuse Hagel of opposing sanctions and
being satisfied with containing Tehran, as opposed to preventing it from
obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Reuters contributed to this report