Iranian presidential candidate Hassan Rohani (L) mural 370.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon cautioned on Tuesday that Iran’s supreme leader,
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, may exploit the moderate image of Presidentelect Hassan
Rohani to advance Tehran’s nuclear project.
Speaking from the Paris Air
Show, Ya’alon told Army Radio that he hoped the West will “surprise us and
succeed in convincing the Iranians to give up on their military nuclear project
in a diplomatic matter,” but expressed concern that sanctions might be eased
while Iran’s nuclear activities continue.
Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu shares his concerns, Ya’alon added.
“The very fact that he
[Khamenei] allowed Rohani to be elected is interesting.
But we must not
delude ourselves, as Rohani is a part of the conservative regime and the Islamic
Revolution, and he is a reformist only in a relative manner,” the defense
“The only argument that developed during the elections
between him [Rohani] and the other candidates is that Rohani said that Iran
should speak to the West, and the others opposed this,” he said.
Monday, Ya’alon met with the French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le
After the meeting, Ya’alon expressed appreciation for “the
excellent ties between France and Israel,” and praised France’s efforts to
include Hezbollah in the European Union’s list of terrorist
Ya’alon addressed last week’s elections in the Islamic
Republic on Monday, saying the Iranian people “want to see a change, but I’m not
sure Rohani, who is an ayatollah, will deliver the change in the way the Iranian
people expect. Ultimately, the person who decided, decides and will decide is
the supreme leader, Khamenei, and therefore the Iranian nuclear program should
be stopped in one way or another.”
Ya’alon added that “the Iranians feel
that they can advance in their nuclear program without paying the price, hence
they must not be allowed to evade a decision.
Only a combination of
pressures – sanctions, diplomatic isolation and a credible military option – can
result in progress in a diplomatic channel.”
Currently, he warned, the
Iranian project is moving forward.
Addressing the situation in Syria,
Ya’alon said that “the very fact that the Iranian regime and Hezbollah are
helping Assad is a threat to our interests and those of the West. The Syrian
issue is global.”
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