The US point person for sanctions against Iran met with Israeli officials over a 36-hour period early this week.
David Cohen, known as President Barack Obama’s “sanctions czar,” met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s senior security staff and conducted a slew of interviews with the Israeli media. Overall, Cohen stressed the need for increased sanctions to stop a nuclearized Iran.
"The sanctions are having an impact on Iran, but I also recognize that more needs to be done. And we are intent on doing more," Cohen told Israel’s Army Radio on Monday.
The visit came ahead of Cohen’s planned appearance at continued talks with Iran in Moscow. The June 18 meeting will mark the third round of negotiations as the P5+1 group—the US, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany—attempts to convince the Islamic republic to yield to UN inspections of its nuclear facilities.
Iran maintains its is enriching uranium for research and medical purposes, though Israel and much of the western world believes its intention to be more dangerous than that. Israel has worked to convince allies that Iran is only participating in the P5+1 talks to stall for time, using the interval to destroy evidence of its nuclear weaponry. To date, the first two rounds of talks have produced no results.
"If we don't get a breakthrough in Moscow there is no question we will continue to ratchet up the pressure,” Cohen told Haaretz. "The important point for the Israeli public to understand and for the Iranian leadership to understand is that if we are not able to make progress on the diplomatic track there is additional pressure that can be brought to bear on the pressure track."
Cohen also met with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. The official reportedly told Cohen, “We have reached a critical point in time that requires intensive and uncompromising action in the coming months.”
Ayalon noted the impending July 1 date, the deadline the international community set for Iran to conform to UN inspections, saying, “Full implementation of the sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran and the oil embargo must be assured by 1 July 2012.”