News / Middle East

Netanyahu to Press Obama for No Letup on Iran Pressure

US President Barack Obama, left, listens to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their visit to the Children's Memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013.US President Barack Obama, left, listens to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their visit to the Children's Memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013.
x
US President Barack Obama, left, listens to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their visit to the Children's Memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013.
US President Barack Obama, left, listens to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their visit to the Children's Memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013.
Reuters
— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will warn President Barack Obama in White House talks on Monday that Iran's diplomatic “sweet talk” cannot be trusted and will urge him to keep up the pressure to prevent Tehran from being able to make a nuclear bomb.
 
While Obama will attempt to reassure Netanyahu that he will not act prematurely to ease sanctions on Iran, growing signs of a U.S.-Iranian thaw have rattled Israel and could make for a tense encounter between the two leaders, who have not always seen eye-to-eye on the Iranian nuclear dispute.
 
They will meet in Washington three days after Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by telephone in the highest-level contact between the countries in more than three decades. The call fueled hopes for a resolution of Iran's decade-old nuclear standoff with the West.
 
“Netanyahu does not care that he is the only one ruining the party,” an Israeli official said.
 
Obama is expected to voice sympathy for Israel's skepticism about Iran, its longtime enemy, but will make clear his determination to test Rouhani's intentions and will press Netanyahu for time to do so, U.S. officials say.
 
For his part, Netanyahu will tell Obama that tough economic sanctions have succeeded in forcing Iran back to the negotiating table and “they should not be eased, quite the contrary, they should be tightened,” a second Israeli official said.
 
Netanyahu will urge Obama to reject any concessions by the West and instead demand specific steps by Iran, including shutting down its uranium enrichment and plutonium projects and shipping out their fissile material. “He will tell the president 'better no deal than a bad deal,”' the official said.
 
The Obama administration has been vague on what concessions it wants from Iran, and a source close to the White House said the president is expected to resist Israeli pressure for a precise time limit for diplomacy to produce an agreement.
 
Despite their differences behind closed doors, Obama and Netanyahu are expected to try to project unity. Talks begin in the Oval Office at 11:15 a.m. EDT/1515 GMT, ending with statements to a small pool of journalists, followed by a working lunch.
 
Netanyahu spent Sunday holed up at his New York hotel working on a speech he will deliver at the United Nations on Tuesday while his aides mostly stayed out of the public eye.
 
“I will speak the truth. Facts must be stated in the face of the sweet talk and the blitz of smiles,” Netanyahu said at the airport in Tel Aviv before departing for the United States.
 
Signaling Netanyahu's aim to counter Rouhani's charm offensive with one of his own, aides said the U.S.-educated Israeli leader will extend his visit by a day to conduct a series of media interviews.
 
History of strained ties
 
Obama and Netanyahu have a history of difficult encounters, including a blowup in the Oval Office in 2011 when Netanyahu famously lectured the president on Jewish history.
 
Iran strategy has strained relations between them before, most notably last year when Netanyahu pushed back against U.S. pressure on Israel not to launch its own pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear sites.
 
Having secured a second term, Obama visited Israel in March, where he eased the personal rift with Netanyahu and offered  reassurances that he was determined to deny Iran the means to make a bomb, something that Tehran denies it is seeking.
 
But different clocks tick for the two allies. While they agree that Tehran could make its first nuclear device in months if it were intent on doing so, Israel warned last week this gap could shrink to weeks due to new Iranian uranium centrifuges.
 
Limited in conventional military clout, Israel - believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed power - would prefer the U.S. superpower takes lead against Iran if diplomacy fails.
 
Yet Israelis watched worriedly as Obama stumbled in his bid to muster domestic support for attacking Syria in reprisal over Damascus's suspected use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21.
 
Netanyahu will look for proof of Obama's commitment to confront Tehran with a “credible military threat.” Obama insists he is not bluffing but has not been as explicit as Israel wants.
 
However, neither does Netanyahu look any closer to launching a strike on Iran alone, with Israeli public support lacking and questions about whether it would be militarily effective.
 
In the meantime, Obama's engagement with Iran could be limited by the influence of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington and lawmakers who share Netanyahu's suspicion of Rouhani, a moderate cleric who took office in August and conducted a public relations blitz at the United Nations last week.
 
Netanyahu could meet supporters on Capitol Hill on Monday.
 
Seeking to stress common ground, U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice told CNN on Sunday  the United States, Israel and other allies “have been largely united in agreeing on the process going forward” with Iran. But she acknowledged the path was unclear as negotiations with Iran were not yet under way.
 
Further complicating matters is Obama's re-invigorated push for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians in talks that restarted earlier this year. Middle East diplomacy is expected to figure more prominently in Monday's meeting than originally thought, after Obama listed it as a top priority in his address to the United Nations on Tuesday.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid