Iran is afraid of the harsh international reaction it would receive it it were to obtain a nuclear bomb, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said Saturday evening in an interview with Channel Two.
Meridor, who is also the intelligence agencies minister, said that while international pressure had not yet succeeded in halting Iran's nuclear program, it must eventually bring results. While a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities is an existing option, all other options must be given a chance first, preferably in cooperation with the international community, he said. When asked for a time frame he refused to respond, saying that public debate on the issue was damaging, and a mistake that he would not be part of.
Meridor put his faith in the United States, saying that on all important issues, the US was on Israel's side. He added that he did not think Israel had ever had such an "intimate relationship" with the US before, and that the two countries enjoyed very close intelligence cooperation.
The minister also refused to comment on Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's claims the day before that US President Barack Obama had "thrown Israel under the bus." "The last thing that I would do is interfere with US politics," he said. "Any responsible Israeli official should refrain from expressing support for one US party or another."
While making his speech accepting the Republican nomination on Friday,
Romney slammed Obama's Iran policy: "Every American is less secure today
because he has failed to slow Iran’s nuclear threat...He said we should
talk to Iran. We’re still talking, and Iran’s centrifuges are still
Meridor's remarks on US-Israeli relations echoed a White House statement released Friday. When asked about the comments made by Romney at the Republican National Convention, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded: " Under President Obama, cooperation with Israel between our military and intelligence communities has never been closer, assistance provided to Israel by the United States has never been greater than it has been under President Obama. We have an extremely close relationship with Israel, which is appropriate given our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security."
Carney also responded to Romney's claims that the Obama administration had not done enough to prevent Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons. " It is the President’s firm commitment that we must prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," Carney stated.
Carney said that Obama had succeeded in uniting the international community in efforts to pressure Iran through sanctions to forgo its nuclear ambition."The opportunity to achieve that goal remains available, that window remains open. But it is absolutely the case that that window will not remain open indefinitely," he said.
Hilary Leila Krieger, Jpost Correspondent contributed to this report