Britain's chief negotiator for the nuclear talks with Iran said Wednesday in Jerusalem that the United Kingdom will "monitor and police" sanctions against Iran to ensure it does not collapse.
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Simon Gass, the political director of the British foreign office arrived in Israel Wednesday morning for talks with Israeli officials - including Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz - on the Iranian nuclear program. The two countries are coordinating their positions on a future comprehensive agreement between Iran and six world powers.
"The bulk of sanctions will stay in place," Gass told reporters. "We will monitor and police those sanctions in the next few months to make sure the sanction regime stays in place."
Gass said the United Kingdom will continue consulting the Israeli government on Iran. "The Israeli government will make their own judgments on this issue, but we have agreed on the need to work together and look toward the future," he said.
Gass’ visit to Israel was preceded by a telephone conversation between Steinitz and British Foreign Secretary William Hague in which the latter emphasized that Britain is interested in continuing its close coordination with Israel on Iran, but expects Israel not to take steps to sabotage the agreement.
Hague told Steinitz that Israel must accept the interim agreement signed with Iran by the world powers and look ahead. He said that Israel must take advantage of the negotiations over a final agreement to take place in the next six months, in order to present its position and contribute its ideas.
Hague had said earlier that Israel should avoid taking any action that would undermine the interim nuclear agreement reached between Iran and world powers in Geneva.
Gass said Hague's statements regarding Israeli criticism of the interim deal were "misinterpreted," and stressed that "Hague meant that we hope that even countries with reservations about the agreement like Israel will use it as a way to move forward."
He added that the United Kingdom understands that Israel has core security concerns regarding Iran. "We respect this. It is legitimate for Israel to have its opinion on the comprehensive agreement. But we hope that Israel will recognize it is a sound basis for moving forward," Gass said.
The British envoy told reporters in Jerusalem that his country believes the agreement reached in Geneva was a good one. "For the next six months, it prevents Iran from making progress on the nuclear program and thus opens the way for beginning negotiations on a comprehensive agreement," he said. "We don't know if that agreement will be possible but the first step pauses the Iranian nuclear program."
He said that the key issue is whether Iran and the P5+1 nations can move ahead to a comprehensive solution. "At the end of the day we will need to be satisfied that the final Iranian program is peaceful," Gass said.