US Treasury Secretary Lew Faces Jeering Crowd at ‘Jerusalem Post’ Conference in New York
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew faced a booing and jeering crowd on Sunday at the annual Jerusalem Post conference in New York.
As the treasury secretary discussed the Obama administration’s commitment to Israeli security, the audience erupted into boos, with some laughing.
As Lew broached the topic of the current framework for a deal with Iran to contain its nuclear program, somebody called out “Chamberlain,” referring to the British prime minister who pursued a policy of appeasement with the Nazi regime in the years leading up to World War II.
At one point, The Jerusalem Post’s Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde took to the microphone urging audience members to quiet down, and calling the heckling “disrespectful.”
“I only ask that you listen to me as we’ve listened to you,” said a slightly flustered Lew, following his hostile reception from an audience about two-thirds full, at the Marriott Marquis events hall.
Lew went on to rebuff a recent report by the New York Times stating that Iran’s nuclear fuel stockpiles had gone up since signing an interim agreement in 2013, supposedly freezing its fuel production. Lew said the fluctuations were normal and expected.
He said Russia and China would not have veto power at the U.N. over the automatic “snap back” of sanctions should Iran be found to be cheating on the comprehensive nuclear deal, which faces a June 30 deadline.
Russia had previously said it would reject any “automaticity” in reimposing sanctions should inspectors discover Iran’s cheating on a nuclear deal, and many critics of the emerging agreement have insisted an international sanctions regime would be near-impossible to re-enforce once the current sanctions are lifted.
Additionally, the secretary of the treasury said the U.S. would continue to go after individuals and interests from Iran supporting terrorist activities in the Middle East.
Following Lew’s address, Israeli Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz attempted to simmer tensions by thanking Lew for his efforts to secure a spot for Israel in the elite Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development when he was deputy secretary of state.
Steinitz remarked, however, that under the current framework agreement, the details of which were announced in Lausanne, Switzerland in April, Iran might be able to reduce its breakout time for a nuclear weapon from 12 months to six months.