Iran aims to control the Middle East, thereby controlling a major part of the world's economy, President Shimon Peres told the AIPAC Conference in Washington Sunday, asserting that Tehran "must be stopped, and it will be stopped."
Using especially harsh rhetoric against Iran's rulers, the president called the Iranian government an "evil, cruel, morally corrupt regime" based on destruction, adding that it is "an affront to human dignity." Tehran is the central sponsor and financier of world terrorism, he added, charging that it threatens Berlin, Madrid, Delhi and Bangkok, in a reference to recent attacks against Israel diplomats in India and Thailand.
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Noting Israel's experience with the horrors of war, Peres assured that peace is always the first choice but warned that if Israel is forced to fight, "trust me ... We shall prevail."
Shooting down Cold War comparisons regarding the Iranian threat, the elder Israeli statesman said the policy of containment was not suitable and reiterated that all options are on the table.
The United States and Israel, he added, share the same goals vis-a-vis Iran - preventing its proliferation of nuclear weapons.
"There is no space between us," he emphasized, hours before sitting down with the US president.
Peres also addressed his vision of Israel's democracy and its historic relationship with the United States.
Israel has been forced to exercise its right to defend itself through every decade of its existence, Peres told AIPAC Conference attendees, noting that "no day of war ever interrupted a day of democracy."
Comparing the Jewish state to the United States, the president said Israel was born as an idea and in defiance of history, describing how both countries have created "a new world by drawing on the values of the past and the innovations of the future."
Peres also expressed his personal pride in Jerusalem's alliance with Washington, along with his pride in being Jewish and Israeli.
Noting the support of AIPAC and American Jewry, he extolled the "dedication and excellence" of the organization and specifically the younger generation in attendance, telling them "the future belongs to you."