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Samantha Power on Iran nuclear bomb: ‘We will not let it happen’

Power spoke ahead of Netanyahu. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, touched on the controversy over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's scheduled speech to Congress, and then she turned serious.

“We believe firmly that Israel’s security and the U.S.-Israeli partnership transcends politics and always will,” she said to applause in remarks Monday morning at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy conference. She spoke shortly ahead of Netanyahu.

Power defended the Obama administration’s approach to negotiations with Iran over that country's nuclear program, and she pledged anew that the United States will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Without explicitly invoking the threat of American military action to prevent it,  she reassured the audience that the military option remains on the table.

“Talks, no talks, agreement, no agreement, the United States will take any steps that are necessary to protect our national security and that of our closest ally. We believe diplomacy is the preferred route to secure our shared aim, but if diplomacy should fail we know the stakes of a nuclear-armed Iran as well as anyone here,” Power said to applause. “We will not let it happen. There will never be a sunset on America’s commitment to Israel’s security. Never.”

She said U.S. support for Israel is bipartisan and that U.S. commitments to the partnership with Israel are "bedrock commitments."

"This partnership should never be politicized, and it cannot and will not be tarnished or broken,” she said.

Power denounced a surge in anti-Semitism, telling the audience that the United States has been "relentlessly" pushing countries to combat it. She laid out a number of ways that she said the United States has stood up for Israel at the United Nations and will continue to do so.

She said it is "bitterly unjust" that the U.N., which was founded on the premise that all nations are treated equally, is "so often used by member states to treat Israel unequally." Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday accused the U.N. Human Rights Council as being "obsessed" with Israel, Reuters reported.

"It is a false choice to tell Israel that it has to choose between peace on the one hand, and security on the other. The United Nations would not ask any other country to make that choice, and it should not ask it of Israel," she said.