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PM to US Senators: My priority is Iran nuclear march
By JPOST.COM STAFF
11/01/2013
In meeting with visiting US Senators, Netanyahu expresses appreciation of US moves against Tehran; Minority Leader McConnell touts "broad bipartisan support for Israel"; IAEA chief "not optimistic" about upcoming Iran talks.
 
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 march.

"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 end."

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.

Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat

At 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
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