Netanyahu calls on Obama to maintain sanctions, military pressure on Iran

President Obama listens to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in the Oval Office, Sept. 30, 2013. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Obama listens to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in the Oval Office, Sept. 30, 2013. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked President Obama not to relieve sanctions or military pressure on Iran until the Islamic Republic proves that it has ended its suspected nuclear weapons program.

“I believe it’s the combination of a credible military threat and the pressure of the sanctions that has brought Iran to the negotiating table,” Netanyahu said Monday during a break in his White House meeting with Obama. “Both pressures must be kept in place. They should not be lessened until there is verifiable success.”

Netanyahu and Obama differ on the sincerity of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s willingness to reach an agreement on ending the suspected military nuclear program in Iran.

The Israeli leader has called the newly elected Rouhani a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” while Obama has welcomed his overtures. The American president spoke with Rouhani by phone last week — the highest U.S. contact with an Iranian leader since the 1979 revolution.

Rouhani has insisted his country’s nuclear program is peaceful but has said he is willing to make it more transparent.

Obama on Monday said that U.S.-led sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table and agreed with Netanyahu that “words are not sufficient.”

“We have to see if in fact they are serious about their willingness to abide by international norms, international laws,” Obama said. “We enter these negotiations with a clear eye — anything we do will require the highest standards of verification.”

Obama repeated that all options, including military, remain on the table.

Netanyahu also called for an intensification of sanctions if Iran fails to comply with U.N Security Council resolutions.

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