The only way to prevent a nuclear Iran is by the international community posing a credible military threat and not taking seriously the possibility of a positive change in the June 14 Iranian election, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a briefing to diplomats and journalists organized by The Israel Project at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel on Tuesday.

Israeli officials have expressed concern in recent days that following the Iranian election, the international community will soften its stance on Iran to give the Islamic Republic’s new president a chance to negotiate a diplomatic agreement. The officials have warned that the replacement of outspoken outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with a dry technocrat could help Iran lull the world into letting it develop nuclear weapons.

Steinitz mocked the election, noting that out of nearly 700 men and women who had announced their candidacy, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has disqualified all but eight.

Looking at the diplomats, Steinitz asked if such undemocratic standards would be acceptable in their countries.

“The Iranian election will make no difference whatsoever to Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” Steinitz said. “It makes no difference who wins. If there are those who want to delay their decision about what to do with Iran for the election, they can, but we think this is high time to give Iran a credible military threat. That is the only way to get them to change their ways.”

Steinitz praised the international community for putting increasingly challenging sanctions on Iran, saying “time is running out” to prevent Iran’s nuclearization. He estimated the time left as “a matter of months or a year or so.”

Reiterating comparisons to North Korea he made at last month’s Jerusalem Post Conference in New York, Steinitz said a nuclear Iran was the equivalent of 30 North Koreas, because of Iran’s international ambitions and the scale of its nuclear program. He said Iran was developing enough centrifuges to create fissile material for 20 bombs, but it wanted dozens.

“Preventing the nuclearization of Iran is the No. 1 challenge of our generation,” Steinitz said.

“Their goal is the mass production of nuclear weapons, which would create a more dangerous world. You think the world is dangerous now? Wait until this fanatical regime gets a few dozen nuclear weapons.”

Despite a lengthy question and answer session, none of the journalists and diplomats asked Steinitz about the Palestinian issue.

Steinitz recently changed his views on that issue. In a 2008 Jerusalem Post interview, Steinitz said the twostate solution “should be dead,” but in an April interview ahead of the conference, he said “I am in favor of Netanyahu’s idea of two states for two peoples.”

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