DEFENSE MINISTER Ehud Barak 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that a recent report in The New York Times
claiming that Iran and the US were holding direct one-on-one talks on Tehran’s
nuclear program did not point to an important development.
the 103 FM radio station, the defense minister said, “There either were or
weren’t contacts...the US is working to stop Iran.”
however, that “this [claims of direct negotiations] is not such an important
thing, and perhaps it’s not even such an important report,” since Iran has been
deceiving Western powers for years while proceeding to enrich
“The world is talking with the Iranians all the time through the
P5+1 group. The Iranians have been fooling the world for years,” Barak
said. “The problem is that Iran is talking so that the centrifuges [can
go on] spinning,” he added.
Israel’s stance is that all uranium
enrichment in Iran must end, and that uranium that has already been enriched
must be removed from the country, other than a small, “symbolic” amount, the
defense minister said.
Furthermore, the subterranean uranium enrichment
facility in Qom must be dismantled, he said. “Anything less that that
means planting one’s head in the sand and not achieving results,” Barak
The defense minister struck a pessimistic note on the chances of
diplomacy and sanctions causing Tehran to change its mind about its nuclear
“I would like to wake up tomorrow morning and see the
Iranians give up their program, but it doesn’t look like this is happening,” he
told the radio station.
Turning to the recent escalation on the Gaza
border, Barak praised the resilience of Israeli residents living in southern
rural districts who have come under regular Palestinian rocket
He said that the situation “is much better than in the
past. Iron Dome is deployed against the bigger rockets. It won’t help
against mortars. The mortars are directed against IDF [targets] near the
Erez Border Crossing. The IDF attacked the cell that fired them [on Monday
While Israel “is not deterred” by the possibility of a Gaza
ground offensive, Barak indicated that the time for such a maneuver had not yet
come. “We don’t want to do anything hastily, and then start thinking
about it afterward,” he said.
The current security situation did not
warrant an offensive in Gaza, “but that could change,” Barak warned. “The IDF
can operate in Gaza in any way the government decides.”
Barak noted that
Israel had been in Gaza for 40 years, and that “[former prime minister Ariel]
Sharon, of all people, decided to leave Gaza and remove the last soldier and
settler. [He did this] not because he loved Arabs,” Barak said.
to act responsibly,” he added.