JERUSALEM (JTA) – U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told Israeli reporters, “If I were Israeli, I would support the Iran deal.”
In response to Moniz’s comments on Monday during a special briefing for Israeli diplomatic correspondents visiting Washington, his Israeli counterpart, Yuval Steinitz, countered from Jerusalem, “If I were American, I would oppose the agreement.”
Steinitz and Moniz met about two months ago in Washington for talks on the Iranian nuclear issue and other energy matters.
Moniz told the Israeli reporters on Monday that the agreement is “a commitment from Iran to never have nuclear weapons. It’s not for 10 or 15 years – it’s forever.” He added that the deal does not “change one iota who our friends and allies are in the region – Israel, Gulf States and some Arab states.”
He also reminded the reporters that Iran was a nuclear threshold state before the agreement.
In his statement Tuesday, Steinitz said that he would oppose the agreement “because it ensures from the outset Iran’s becoming a nuclear power capable of producing dozens of atomic bombs per month, ten years from today,” and ” because it harms the national security of the United States, Israel and every Western country.”
The sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions deal reached July 14 between Iran and six major powers still must be approved by the U.S. Congress. Israel’s government vehemently opposes the deal and wants Congress to use its power to kill it by the end of September. President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any anti-agreement legislation.