'Iran's Nuclear Program Poses a Major Risk to Mideast Stability'

Senior U.S., Israeli officials pledge to keep Iran from acquiring atomic arms during semiannual U.S.-Israel Strategic Dialogue.

The United States and Israel on Monday said Iran is among the greatest challenges to stability in the Middle East and reaffirmed their commitment to preventing the country from developing nuclear weapons.

Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran AP August 21, 2010
AP

After talks in Washington, senior U.S. and Israeli officials said in a joint statement that Iran's nuclear program, along with its support of anti-Israel militant groups, are of "grave concern," and they pledged to keep Iran from acquiring atomic arms. The discussions were part of the semiannual U.S.-Israel Strategic Dialogue.

"While today's strategic dialogue covered many subjects, it is clear that Iran is among the greatest challenges we face today in the Middle East," said the statement, which was released by the State Department in the names of Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon.

"Iran's continued noncompliance with its international obligations related to its nuclear program, as well as its continued support for terrorist entities, are of grave concern to our two countries and the entire international community, they said.

Continued efforts by the international community to address Iran's actions through both pressure and engagement are critical to changing Iran's strategic calculus and preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability," the statement said.

Israel views Iran as a looming threat and the U.S. has led international efforts to pressure Iranian authorities into coming clean on its nuclear program, which Western intelligence believes is a cover for atomic weapons development. Iran denies the charges but has defied international pressure and sanctions to prove its nuclear program is peaceful.

Monday's meeting between U.S. and Israeli officials came as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks remain stalled over Israel's refusal to extend a freeze on West Bank settlement construction. The joint statement did not address that issue. However, both Steinberg and Ayalon said the U.S. and Israel are committed to Arab-Israeli peace.

The two countries "re-emphasized their commitment to the pursuit of lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and between Israel and all of its neighbors," the statement said.