May 16 - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said ''we must not let the Ayatollahs win'' during a discussion about Iran with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**NONE** ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTENARRATION) U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Israel's leaders on Friday (May 16) in Jerusalem, reaffirming the U.S. commitment to Israel's security. Hagel is on a three-day visit to Israel, where he is due to discuss a host of issues, from Iran to Syria to the failed peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Hagel for U.S. assistance in its missile defence program, notably the Iron Dome which the U.S. has helped bankroll. Last week, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice put the amount of U.S. funds earmarked for Iron Dome at nearly $900 million. Netanyahu also urged the U.S. to pile the pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear programme. "I think as the talks with Iran continue, one thing must guide the international community -- that is, we must not the Ayattolahs win. We must not let the foremost terrorist state of our time, Iran, develop the capability to produce nuclear weapons," Netanyahu said. Despite apparently reducing illicit purchases that breach U.N. sanctions, Iran is pursuing development of ballistic missiles, a confidential U.N. report said, posing an acute challenge to six powers negotiating with Tehran to rein in its nuclear program. Early this week, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described as "stupid and idiotic" Western expectations for his country to curb its missile program. He decreed mass production of ballistic weapons, striking a defiant tone just before nuclear talks resumed in Vienna. "I want to assure you, Prime Minister, and the people of Israel - of the United States' continued commitment, to ensuring Iran does not a nuclear weapon, as President Obama has said, and that America will do what we must to live up to that commitment," Hagel said. The high-stakes negotiations aim for a deal by a July 20 deadline to end a long stand-off that has raised the risk of a wider Middle East war. Hagel met with Israeli President Shimon Peres later on Friday.