Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon 370.
(photo credit:TOVAH LAZAROFF)
There is no way to secure the Middle East as long as Iran pursues nuclear
weapons and engages in terror, Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon said on
“Without confronting the Iranian regime, there is no way to
stabilize Afghanistan, Iraq, Bahrain, Syria and Lebanon,” he said during a
speech in Jerusalem at a conference organized by The Israel
Ending the Iranian threat, Ya’alon said, “is a challenge for the
stability of the Middle East and the entire world. By one way or another a
nuclear Iran should be stopped.”
He added that Iran should feel as if it
has to choose between continued pursuit of its nuclear program or its survival
as a nation.
Tehran’s nuclear program should be halted by “a joint
international regional effort since it does not threaten only Israel but the
entire region,” he said, “and aspires to be a hegemonic power in the region and
then a world power.”
These measures should include isolation and
sanctions as well as support for forces in Iran that support democracy,
modernization and freedom, he said. There must also be a “convincing and
credible military option as a last resort,” Ya’alon added.
premier said he fears Iran believes it does not need to worry about a military
strike until 2013, because it does not think the US would attack prior to its
presidential election in November.
Ya’alon spoke at the same time that a
high-level delegation of Israelis and US officials held a joint strategic
dialogue at the Foreign Ministry.
Among those who participated was US
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who is in Israel and the Palestinian
territories in advance of next week’s visit by US Secretary of State Hillary
Ya’alon told Reuters on Thursday that Iran would top the agenda
during Clinton’s visit on July 15 and 16 – her first trip here in almost two
Western powers believe Iran is developing technology to build
nuclear weapons and have imposed an increasingly tough regime of economic
sanctions to make it reverse course. Iran insists its atomic program is peaceful
and has shrugged off the latest round of sanctions, which include an EU embargo
on Iranian crude oil taking full effect on July 1.
“We’ve witnessed the
impact of the sanctions in Iran, but up until now the regime prefers to suffer
rather than give up its military nuclear capabilities,” Ya’alon said.
time has come to introduce “really crippling sanctions,” he said, adding that
the US should do more in this regard.
After the strategic meeting at the
Foreign Ministry led by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, both Israel and
the US issued a joint statement against Iran’s destabilizing actions and
promotion of terror.
In the meeting, however, a US official expressed
concern that Tehran had yet to understand that it must stop its nuclear
It spoke of the possibility of leveling further sanctions
A statement issued by both countries after the meeting
addressed the issue of Syria.
“The ongoing bloodshed inflicted on the
Syrian population by the [Bashar] Assad regime, assisted by Iran and Hezbollah,
is a source of major humanitarian concern and the continued violence of the
Syrian regime against its citizens could also lead to severe consequences for
the entire region,” it said.
Turning to the topic of Egypt, the US
officials said they believe that its newly elected President Mohamed Mursi would
keep peace with Israel.
Separately, Ya’alon told the audience at The
Israel Project conference, that he too believed Egypt would maintain peaceful
relations with Israel, because the two countries had joint military strategic
Israel is Egypt’s safest border, he said.Reuters
contributed to this report.
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