News / Middle East

Israel: Iran to Top Agenda at White House Summit

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, January 15, 2012.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, January 15, 2012.
Robert Berger

Israel’s leader is gearing up for a visit to Washington amid growing tensions with Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Iran’s nuclear program will top the agenda when he meets U.S. President Barack Obama March 5 at the White House.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu referred to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Friday that showed that Iran has sharply increased uranium enrichment.

He said the report is “unequivocal proof” of what Israel has been saying all along: that Iran is moving “quickly and unchecked" toward nuclear weapons, in defiance of the international community.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but Israel and the West believe Iran is building nuclear weapons.  Israel sees that as a threat to its existence and has threatened to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, if Western diplomacy fails.

The United States opposes military action, and it has sent senior officials to Israel during the past month to urge it to give sanctions on Iran more time. But Israeli leaders are not convinced.

Cabinet Minister Yuval Steinitz welcomed the tightening sanctions and said they are starting to bite, but he expressed doubt they will be enough to stop Iran’s quest for the atom bomb.

President Obama is expected to urge Prime Minister Netanyahu not to attack Iran. But Israel is not making any promises. Officials here say they are grateful for American military aid and political support, but they say that when it comes to Israel’s security and survival, its decisions are its own.

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