JERUSALEM— Iran is topping the agenda as a senior official from the U.S. State Department visits Israel.
U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman met with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem, briefing them on the nuclear talks between six world powers and Iran. Sherman heads the American negotiating team at talks in Vienna aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program.
"There is only one measure of success of a comprehensive agreement with Iran and that is an agreement that Iran will never obtain a nuclear weapon and that the international community will have assurance in the exclusively peaceful nature of a nuclear program in Iran. That is our objective,” explained Sherman.
Iran said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. But Israel and the West believe Iran is building nuclear weapons that could threaten the existence of the Jewish state.
At the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed skepticism about the nuclear talks. He warned the world powers not to allow Iran to become a nation on the “threshold” of a nuclear bomb.
Netanyahu said Iran is continuing to enrich uranium and to build long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. He said that “means Iran is getting everything (in the talks) and giving nothing."
Sherman sought to reassure Israel the United States will not make a deal with Iran that would harm the vital security interests of the Jewish state. And she set out an ambitious timetable for a final agreement. “We have begun very tough negotiations that will go on through July," she stated. "We hope to get to a successful end and to a comprehensive agreement at that time.”
Sherman will also be visiting Persian Gulf states this week with stops in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. She will meet with Arab leaders who, like Israel, feel threatened by Iran’s nuclear program.