U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro, speaking Wednesday at the inaugural event of the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies at the University of Haifa, said the U.S. “will not squander the leverage that sanctions have given us” in the negotiations on the Iran nuclear program in Geneva.
“No deal is better than a bad deal, and we will not agree to a bad deal,” Shapiro said.
Despite recent U.S.-Israel differences on the Iranian nuclear issue—with the Obama Administration urging a halt to new Iran sanctions while the diplomatic track persists, as opposed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for more sanctions—the ambassador said the two countries “share an identical objective” on the issue.
“President Obama has been crystal clear in stating that he will not permit Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, period,” Shapiro said. “And we are prepared to use all elements of our national power to ensure that we are successful.”
“Our coordination with Israel in support of this shared goal has been intensive, continuous and highly effective,” he said. “Together with many other nations, we have put in place the strongest sanctions regime in history, which has brought Iran to the negotiating table.”
The U.S. and its partners among the P5+1 countries are seeking “to test whether Iran is prepared to ensure that its nuclear program can only be used for peaceful purposes,” according to Shapiro.
“We are trying to first reach an agreement on an initial six-month phase that freezes and rolls back the Iranian program,” he said, describing the reported deal under which Iran would temporarily suspend high-grade (20 percent) uranium enrichment but would still be able to enrich to 3.5 percent. The deal reportedly does not require Iran to reduce its number of centrifuges, and lets Iran continue work on the plutonium-producing Arak heavy water reactor.
“Iran could get very limited sanctions relief during this period, while the main oil and banking sanctions that have brought them to the table would remain in place, and the pressure would increase,” Shapiro said. “With the time this gives us, we will seek to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that ensures Iran cannot acquire a nuclear weapon.”
“Our goal is clear: to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, through diplomacy and sanctions if possible, but using other means, including a military option, if necessary. We will not fail to achieve this goal,” he added.
Shapiro’s comments came at the kickoff event for the American Jewish Studies program launched in August by the Ruderman Family Foundation and the University of Haifa, the first academic program of its kind in Israel. The one-year, seven-course program surveys Jewish-American immigration history, modern foreign policy, and governmental structures, as well as gender issues and the religious makeup of U.S. Jewish communities.
“The idea is that over the course of time you have a cadre of Israelis who’ve gotten a Master’s in the American Jewish community, and that they will help Israel shape this relationship,” Jay Ruderman, the foundation’s president, has told JNS.org.