White House to Iran: US Could Be a 'Willing Partner'

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel and the U.S. don't see eye-to-eye on Iran's new president. Washington is taking a conciliatory stance while Jerusalem is warning that the new president is just as dangerous as the former one.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney congratulated Iranian President Hasan Rouhani Sunday on his inauguration and said Iranian leaders would find a "willing partner" in the United States if they would speak openly about their nuclear ambitions.

"We again congratulate the Iranian people for making their voices heard during Iran's election," Carney said, adding that should Iran's new government choose "to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations and find a peaceful solution" to its nuclear program, it would "find a willing partner in the United States."

A 'Wound' that Should Be 'Removed'

On Friday, Rouhani said Israel had been "a wound on the body of the Islamic world for years" and "should be removed." Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeni predicted "Palestine will be free" as the new "Islamic Middle East emerges."

"Rouhani's true face has been revealed earlier than expected," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded. "A country that threatens the destruction of the State of Israel must not be allowed to possess weapons of mass destruction."

On Sunday, Netanyahu told cabinet ministers, "Iran's intention is to develop a nuclear capability and nuclear weapons in order to destroy the State of Israel."

"And this constitutes a danger not only to us and the Middle East, but the entire world, and we are all committed to prevent this," he said.

Iran insists its nuclear program is strictly for energy production and medical research, while enriching and stockpiling weapons-grade uranium as it stalls with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Union.

In June 2012, E.U. chief Catherine Ashton announced an "indefinite suspension" of meetings between Iran and the P5+1 (U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China and Germany), saying they could not find enough "common ground."

'Exclusively Peaceful Nature'

On the same day, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement on the sidelines of the G-20 meetings in Mexico: "We agree that Iran must undertake serious efforts aimed at restoring international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program."

More than a year later, the White House apparently hasn't changed its tune, according to Carney's congratulatory statement on Sunday.

Rouhani, meanwhile, advised America not to "speak with Iran in the language of sanctions, speak in the language of respect."

"The only way for interaction with Iran is dialogue on an equal footing, confidence-building and mutual respect, as well as reducing antagonism and aggression," Rohani said in his swearing-in speech.

"If you want the right response, don't speak with Iran in the language of sanctions, speak in the language of respect," he said.

60 Kilograms to Go

In July, experts estimated Iran's enriched uranium stockpile at around 190 kilograms. That means it's about 60 kilograms away from the 250 needed to produce its first bomb.

"U.S. clocks are ticking at a different pace," Netanyahu told "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer in July. He promised he'd do whatever it takes to defend Israel and warned that a nuclear-armed Iran would not be just Israel's problem.

"We're more vulnerable and therefore we'll have to address this question of how to stop Iran, perhaps before the United States does," he said.

He pointed out that while Iran is "expanding and advancing its enrichment facilities…it's developing [intercontinental] ballistic missiles capability."

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Tzippe Barrow

Tzippe Barrow

CBN News Internet Producer - Jerusalem

From her perch high atop the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, Tzippe Barrow helps provide a bird’s eye view of events unfolding in her country.

She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) several years ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.