IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano in Vienna 370 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger)
Iran was the prime topic of conversation in meetings on Monday between President Shimon Peres and dignitaries in Austria, where he was on a state visit.
When he met in the evening with Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Peres was more aggressive than usual in voicing his concerns about Iran.
“It’s time to put facts on the table and to understand that nuclear arms in the hands of the Iranian administration pose a danger to all of humanity,” he told Amano, adding that the conclusion of agreements between the nuclear watchdog and Iran was going much too slowly.
Against the backdrop of the negotiations with Iran, Peres and Amano spent considerable time discussing the IAEA’s role as a leading professional organization in blocking that country’s nuclear drive.
Amano made it clear that Iran was not the only issue on the international community’s agenda, but emphasized that Israel was an important partner of the IAEA.
Peres reminded him that Israel was one of the first countries to support the establishment of the IAEA, for which it had great respect. He also underscored that its work was more important than ever. Taking a more diplomatic stance toward the end of the meeting, he said Israel was fully confident in its ability to carry out its important mission for the benefit of the world.
Nonetheless, he felt compelled to issue another dire warning: that a nuclear Iran would spur a race for the nuclearization of the whole Middle East, which would be a threat not only to Israel but the whole world.
Earlier in the day at a meeting with Austrian President Heinz Fischer, Peres characterized Iran as the biggest global danger. Its current policy, he said, must change.
In a reference to the negotiations the Western powers have been conducting with Iran over its nuclear program, Peres told Fischer the Iranian leadership must change its deeds, not just its words. He acknowledged that there had been a change in the tone of President Hassan Rouhani, but said it was inadequate.
Iran promotes terror and devastation in the world, Peres declared. It finances terror organizations, with Hezbollah and Hamas in the foreground.
Noting that economic sanctions imposed on Iran were set to continue for another six months, he said that if Iran’s nuclear drive did not stop, it would be worthwhile for Europe to take note of the fact that US President Barack Obama had steadfastly repeated that there were other options still on the table – and those options were very serious.
“The world does not want to see another tragedy such as that of Hiroshima,” Peres said.
Fischer, who in response to an invitation from Rouhani will be visiting Iran in the near future – the first Western leader to do so since Rouhani’s election last June – said he hoped the agreements between the West and Tehran would be honored and promises kept.
“There is no question that the current situation is critical,” he stated.
The conversation between the two leaders also focused on the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. All sides are making the most strenuous efforts to reach an agreement, Peres said.
“We proved in the past with Egypt and Jordan that peace is possible and vital,” he stated. “I believe we can do it with the Palestinians, too.”