US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns has told The Jerusalem Post that America and Israel are on the same page when it comes to Iran. "We have a very clear uniformity of views with the Israelis," he said. "One of our major [priorities] is obviously to work very closely with Israel and to be a good partner with Israel."
Iran launches large-scale war games ahead of UN deadline
He spoke to the Post after delivering a lecture on Iran at the Brookings Institution on Wednesday. In his remarks, he said, "We've got time" to deal with Iran, although Israeli officials have increased their rhetoric and focus on the Islamic Republic recently.
Even so, he told the Post the US administration was having "very good discussions" with Israel right now over a confluence of interests regarding Iran.
He indicated that work on a second Security Council resolution against Iran was likely to begin after next week's report from International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei on whether the Islamic Republic has complied with Resolution 1737, passed in December. Burns expects the verdict to be no.
"Those of us on the Security Council will have to entertain the possibility of a second resolution that will gradually increase the pressure on Iran," he said, "but always leaving this exit door for the Iranians that the offer remains on the table that we do want to negotiate with you."
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has offered to talk to the Iranians on condition that they first halt their program to enrich uranium.
Burns urged the EU, Japan and certain Arab countries do more on Iran by "taking their own measures" when it came to sanctions.
He also praised the European Council for beginning to do just that, by passing measures implementing the Security Council sanctions that he described as "going beyond the terms of the UN resolution."
In his comments to the capacity audience, he said diplomacy could prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
"I do not believe a conflict with Iran is inevitable; it is certainly not desirable," Burns, No. 3 at the State Department, said. "I believe a diplomatic solution to the nuclear problem and all the other problems I have mentioned is possible."
He also said, "There's no one arguing that I know of inside the administration or outside to the effect that we have got to exhaust diplomacy in the next few months."