WASHINGTON (JTA) — In the wake of the election of a new Iranian president, AIPAC called on the Obama administration to increase sanctions pressure on Iran until it ceases all uranium enrichment.
“The international community should provide sanctions relief only after Tehran takes concrete positive steps to halt its nuclear activities,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a statement Tuesday, a day after final election results made Hassan Rohani, a relative moderate figure from the theocracy’s establishment, a winner.
“Until that time, the United States should maintain a steady policy that couples a genuine willingness to negotiate with increased sanctions pressure,” the pro-Israel lobby said in a clear signal that it would not roll back its intensive Capitol Hill lobbying being for intensified sanctions on Iran.
Rohani has signaled his readiness to reverse the confrontational approach adopted by his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and has said he is ready to reach out to the West and the United States. However, he has insisted that enrichment will not stop and has instead offered greater transparency to show that Iran’s nuclear program is not weaponized.
It’s not clear yet how the Obama administration would respond to such a posture, but Western negotiators reportedly are ready to settle for 5 percent enrichment and perhaps as much as 20 percent enrichment.
Neither figure is the 90-plus enrichment needed for weapons grade uranium, but Israel has rejected any enrichment, saying it builds the capacity to achieve a weapons program.
In a series of Tweets on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel “cannot accept” anything short of “A. The total cessation of all enrichment activity at all levels; B. The removal of all the enriched material from Iran; C. The closure of all the illegal nuclear installations.”
Until Iran meets those obligations, Netanyahu said, “it is necessary to intensify the pressure. The Iranian nuclear program must be stopped. Period.”