— David Streeter
President Barack Obama’s Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro participated in an extensive interview with Israel’s Ma’ariv newspaper in which he emphasized that the President is determined to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Shapiro said regarding the Iranian threat:
It should be clear that the United States treats the Iranian threat just as Israel does. It is an existential threat to you and to other countries in the region and in the Persian Gulf, and to our interests and our forces in the area, and, potentially, this threat applies to us as well. We see eye to eye with you the gravity of the situation and the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The President said he would prevent Iran from acquiring them, and he means it…. The goal has not been achieved. Iran continues to violate gravely its international commitments, and since achieving the shared goal is so important, then it should be clear that all options are open. Furthermore, we are examining all options actively and making the necessary plans to ensure that the options exist, and I’m not ruling out any resolute measure in this area….
More after the jump.
The President is resolute and clear in his statements, to prevent the Iranian nuclear threat from becoming a reality. It is a dangerous matter for us and our allies, and that is why heavy international pressure is being applied on Iran, and that is why we are making sure all options are open, available and ready. This is not a containment strategy.
Shapiro explained regarding existing and proposed sanctions against Iran:
[T]he debate surrounding the sanctions on the Central Bank is not about whether they should be imposed, but rather how to do it most effectively. If the Iranian Central Bank is the pipeline through which Iran receives payment for its oil, and they find a way to sell oil despite the sanctions with the attendant impact on rising oil prices, then the result could end up being the opposite to the one we wanted. Instead of decreasing Iran’s profits, it could increase them. The goal of the sanctions is to prevent Iran from receiving payment for its oil, and the question is how to do this. The Senate passed the sanctions by an overwhelming majority, nearly unanimously, and the wording was reached by careful negotiation. Now there is a final version and it is very powerful.
Since the President signed this into law, we have launched a worldwide diplomatic campaign, our embassies have approached all the governments to find out whether they purchase Iranian oil and are assisting them in obtaining alternative suppliers. We are working with key countries that are still buying Iranian oil and helping them find alternative sources, in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. We are pressuring governments to pressure businessmen in the private sector to stop making deals and money transfers with the Iranian Central Bank. I think that we are now attempting to influence international behavior on everything regarding Iran, and we are already seeing clear results, like the collapse of the Iranian currency and the economic difficulties it’s experiencing, and in the Iranian political behavior.
Ma’ariv reported this exchange regarding the military option:
I asked the ambassador what ‘making plans’ meant, and if it includes training. After all, foreign sources have reported that the Israeli Air Force is training intensively. … ‘Look,” said Shapiro, ‘we have a massive presence in the Gulf.’ If he were less polite, he would simply explain that when the United States has hundreds of bombers aboard aircraft carriers facing Iran, Israel’s need to train is immaterial. ‘In any case,’ added the ambassador, ‘when I say planning, I mean that we are guaranteeing that the military option is ready and available to the President at the moment he decides to use it.’
Shapiro also said about Obama’s support for Israel:
President Obama does not change… I don’t deal with political matters, but I promise you that our policy is consistent and won’t change, either before or after the elections. We have so many values and interests in common with Israel, and that is why we are both so close. I have great confidence that if we sit here next year, you will hear the exact same things from me.
Click here to read the full interview.