Israel, U.S. on Same Page Regarding Iran Timetable

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -

Israel and the U.S. are on the same page regarding the urgency of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, an official said after President Barack Obama told The Associated Press that Iran is at least a year away from the bomb.

Israel contends Tehran is on a faster course and could be just months away from breakout capacity.

An official in Netanyahu’s office said that Obama and Netanyahu “see eye-to-eye on the need to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. The critical time that the prime minister refers to is not the time for completing production of a nuclear bomb but rather the time needed for Iran to complete enriching uranium, which is the most important component in preparing a nuclear weapon,” he said regarding the time-frame issue.

“If Iran decides to complete enriching uranium it can do so within a few weeks of the start day,” he said.

“There is no reason why Iran, which claims it wants nuclear energy just for peaceful purposes, should maintain the ability to enrich uranium, which allows for the development of material necessary for building a bomb,” the Israeli official said.

In Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the exchanges with Washington already have paid dividends by opening opportunities to negotiate a “win-win” nuclear deal that would allow Tehran to maintain its uranium enrichment but provide greater assurances the program remain peaceful.

Zarif also disputed Obama’s remarks to AP that Iran is more than a year from reaching the capacity to build a nuclear weapon. Zarif repeated Iran’s claims that it does not seek nuclear arms and urged the U.S. and its allies not to allow Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to block potential progress in nuclear talks.