WASHINGTON (JTA) — Iran will “deepen its coordination” with the United States to locate a Jewish-American man missing since 2007, President Barack Obama said. “Iran has agreed to deepen our coordination as we work to locate Robert Levinson, missing from Iran for more than eight years,” Obama said, speaking Sunday from the White House. Levinson, 68, of Coral Springs, Fla., has been missing since disappearing from Iran’s Kish Island during what has since been revealed as a rogue CIA operation. His family told media they were “devastated” that he was not among the five Americans released this weekend as part of a U.S.-Iran prisoner exchange.
The Iran nuclear deal was launched formally Saturday, Jan. 16. The United States and the European Union responded by suspending an array of nuclear-related sanctions on the country. “Engaging directly with the Iranian government on a sustained basis, for the first time in decades, has created a unique opportunity, a window, to resolve important issues,” Obama said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement Sunday simultaneously reiterated his skepticism. “Israel’s policy is exactly as it has been – not to allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons,” he said. “What is clear is that Iran will now have more resources to divert to terrorism and its aggression in the region and around the world, and Israel is prepared to deal with any threat.”
Obama also said that the he would sanction Iran for its recent ballistic missile tests. Congress and pro-Israel groups had urged him to do so, but Obama initially slowed down such sanctions.