At G.A., Peres and Shapiro sound conciliatory note on Iran talks

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli President Shimon Peres and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told North American Jewish leaders that they have confidence in U.S.  determination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

On Monday, addressing a plenary session at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Jerusalem, Shapiro stressed the commitment of President Obama and the United States to Israel’s security, calling the alliance between the two countries “as close as it has ever been.”

Shapiro said both countries share the goal of stopping Iran’s nuclear program.

“There is no greater priority for the United States and Israel than preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” he said. “On this issue the United States and Israel share an identical objective. [Obama] will not permit Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, period.”

Peres downplayed reports of divisions between the United States and Israel regarding recent negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program, and expressed confidence in the U.S. handling of the issue.

“The United States is our best friend, and the friendship of the United States to us is deep and meaningful,” Peres said. “[Obama] committed himself not to permit the Iranians to become a nuclear power, not just for the sake of Israel but for the sake of humanity.”

The comments by Peres and Shapiro contrast with recent speeches by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he called a proposal by the U.S. and other Western powers regarding Iran’s nuclear program “a bad deal.”

“What is being proposed now is a deal in which Iran retains all of that capacity” to build a nuclear weapon, Netanyahu told the G.A. on Sunday. “Not one centrifuge is dismantled; not one. Iran gets to keep tons of low-enriched uranium.”

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