FM: US, Israel agree on stopping Iranian nuke

In Washington, Lieberman praises US measures against Tehran's nuclear program in meetings with Clinton, McCain.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
February 8, 2012 08:44
2 minute read.
FM Lieberman meets Hillary Clinton in Washington

Lieberman and Clinton. (photo credit: Shahar Azran)

 
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Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday said that he and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were in agreement on most of the issues raised in their meeting Tuesday in Washington.  Most importantly, he said, "there is understanding and agreement that Iran must be prevented from getting a nuclear weapon."

Israel and the world should monitor the effects of the sanctions already put in place, and thank the United States for its recent efforts to levy new sanctions on the Islamic Republic, the foreign minister told Israel Radio. Iran, he said, is looking for ways to transfer money despite the sanctions and "we need to limit their ability to operate in the banking system."

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On Tuesday, during his first official visit to Washington this week since 2010, Lieberman thanked Clinton for the “very important message” recent sanctions on Iran have sent.

He spoke of the significance of further sanctions against Iran in his meetings at the State Department and on Capitol Hill.

“The measures that were taken in the last weeks sent a very important message to the entire region,” he told Clinton, according to a statement put out by the Foreign Ministry.

Later, standing alongside Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), Lieberman welcomed “the very crucial decision regarding sanctions” taken by the United States.

Asked by reporters whether those sanctions were sufficient, McCain answered, “Obviously not, because Iran has not renounced their path towards the acquisition of a nuclear weapon.”

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He also addressed the issue of Syria – declaring that the “blood-letting’s got to stop” and suggesting the US “start considering all options, including arming the opposition” – and noted the discussion with Lieberman would also touch on other regional concerns including Egypt.

But the main issue under consideration during Lieberman’s Washington tour was clearly Iran, which comes amid escalating sanctions and rhetoric as Tehran races on with its nuclear program in defiance of international demands, as well as increasing speculation that Israel might launch a military strike later this year.

That focus was underscored by House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), when she said during their meeting the two of them would “talk about Iran, and Iran,” and later “Iran” some more.

“At this critical time, we must support our ally Israel and stand strongly and unequivocally with Israel in addressing the threats to both our nations. Supporting Israel goes beyond rhetoric,” she said in a statement put out ahead of their meeting. “It means applying crippling sanctions and other pressure to stop Iran before it achieves a breakout nuclear capability.”

Speaking as the committee gathered with Lieberman, Ros- Lehtinen said she was eager to hear how long Lieberman predicted it would be before Iran had achieved nuclear “break-out capacity,” and also to see whether he believed that the US and Israel were on the same page about how best to deal with Tehran’s nuclear efforts.

She also criticized the Obama administration for offering “conflicting assessments” about the US “red line” when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program.

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