US envoy to the UN Susan Rice 311 (R).
(photo credit: Brendan McDermid / Reuters)
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Sunday that "there is no daylight" between Israel and the United States on the issue of the Iranian nuclear program, in an interview with CNN. The comments came after a media blitz by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the United States, during which the Israeli leader pressed US President Barack Obama to set a clear "red line" for Tehran, something Obama has refused to do.
"The United States is in constant communication with Israel," Rice said. "Our intelligence assessments are very similar. Obviously we share a grave concern about Iran pursuing a nuclear weapon. We are determined to prevent that from happening. President Obama has been absolutely clear, and on this there is absolutely no daylight between the United States and Israel, that we will do what it takes to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We are not at that stage yet."
Seemingly disputing Netanyahu's comments that Iran could be on the brink of achieving nuclear weapons capability within 6-7 months, Rice said "there is still considerable time and space" to deal with Iran.
Rice touted her country's efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic, noting the devastating effect that US-led Western sanctions have had on the regime. "Their economy is beginning to buckle," she said. "Their oil production is down 40 %. Their currency has plummeted 40% in the last year. Their economy is shrinking."
The US ambassador also reiterated that the Obama administration "is not pursuing a policy of containment" in the Middle East.
Turning to popular riots in the Middle East
ostensibly caused by an inflammatory anti-Muslim film, Rice said called the movie "disgusting and reprehensible," but added that violence is "absolutely unacceptable." She said that the US has turned its focus to securing US embassies around the world in light of the violence.
Rice hinted that Muslim riots may have been instigated by a "handful of extremists," citing Libya as an example. "The United States is extremely popular in Libya," she said.