Pence: Iran won’t have nuclear weapons to use against US or Israel

Netanyahu, Trump tout tight security ties as PM returns from Washington.

February 18, 2017 22:02
4 minute read.
US Vice President Pence delivers his speech during the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich

US Vice President Pence delivers his speech during the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The United States will stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons that can be used against it or Israel, Vice President Mike Pence told the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, just days after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.

“Under President [Donald] Trump, the US will remain fully committed to ensuring that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon capable of threatening our country [or] our allies in the region, especially Israel,” Pence said.

The issue of Iran’s threat to the region, Israel and the US was a priority in the series of high-level meetings held in Washington last week, as Netanyahu made his first visit to the Capitol since Trump was inaugurated last month.

Netanyahu plans to brief the cabinet about his trip at its weekly meeting on Sunday, before he departs for Australia.

While in Washington, Netanyahu spoke with Trump, Pence and congressmen about the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program and his belief that the deal the Obama administration and five other world powers worked out with Tehran in 2015 to curb its nuclear capacity doesn’t mitigate that threat.

While the Obama administration had dismissed Netanyahu’s concerns, Trump and his administration are supportive.

Just before landing in Israel on Friday, Netanyahu told reporters on the plane that Israel’s strategic security interests in the region will be improved as a result of his three-day trip to Washington.

“There is a joint strategic understanding and deep friendship,” Netanyahu said of his conversation with Trump on Wednesday. The two men have known each other since the 1980s.

“It was an excellent meeting.

It will have a large impact on our security,” said Netanyahu, adding that under the Trump administration US-Israel ties, which are already strong, will be vastly improved.

Netanyahu said there will be joint follow-up meetings between his staff and members of the Trump administration on the issues that were raised during his trip. Aside from Iran, there were also security discussions on Syria, ISIS and terrorism.

In his weekly address to the American people on Friday, Trump said, “The United States also reaffirmed our unbreakable bond this week with our cherished ally, Israel.

It was an honor to welcome my friend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House.

“I affirmed to the prime minister America’s commitment to working with Israel and our allies and partners toward greater security and stability. The threat of terrorism – and believe me, it is a threat – must be confronted and defeated, and we will defeat it.

“We share with Israel a deep conviction that we must protect all innocent human life,” Trump said.

In an interview with Fox News before leaving Washington on Thursday, Netanyahu said the meeting with Trump was an historic one, best described as “a meeting of the minds and of the hearts.”

Israel and the US always had a strong alliance, Netanyahu said, but now “we have an even stronger alliance.”

There is a change coming to the Middle East when it comes to Israel’s relationship with its neighbors due to the rise of radical Islam, with ISIS leading radical Sunnis and Iran leading radical Shi’ites, Netanyahu said.

The moderate Arab world is threatened by both, Netanyahu continued, as he explained that these countries view Israel as a country with a strong military that can stand against these threats, particularly Iran’s quest for hegemony in the region.

As a result, “they do not view us as their enemy but increasingly they see us as their ally against a common threat,” the prime minister said. “In my conversation yesterday with President Trump, he saw things in the same way and that opens up opportunities,” he added.

With regard to the nuclear deal with Iran, Netanyahu said Iran has become more dangerous since it was signed, is better funded and has sponsored more terrorism.

“Now they are going to build ICBMs that can reach the US and have the multiple warheads to do that. That is horrible, it is dangerous for America, dangerous for Israel and dangerous for the Arabs.

Everyone now understands it and there is an American president that understands, and we are talking about what to do about this common threat,” Netanyahu said.

At Wednesday’s joint press conference with Netanyahu, Trump said, “One of the worst deals I’ve ever seen is the Iran deal. My administration has already imposed new sanctions on Iran, and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing – I mean ever – a nuclear weapon.”

During Netanyahu’s time in Washington, there were issues raised that remain unresolved, including Israeli settlement construction and a request for the US to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The US has asked Israel to “hold back” on settlement building. A mechanism is now being developed between the two governments, with the help of Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, to come to an agreement with regard to such activity.

In an interview with Channel 2 on Friday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said it was important to reach such an understanding with the US. He also cautioned politicians to refrain from their calls for unlimited building in Judea and Samaria, or to annex portions of Area C of the West Bank.

“If someone thinks that you can apply Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria or the blocs or build indefinitely without an understanding with the White House, he is mistaken,” Liberman said.

In an interview with Channel 2 on Friday, Liberman said it is important to reach such an understanding with the US. He also cautioned politicians to refrain from their calls for unlimited building in Judea and Samaria or to annex portions of Area C of the West Bank.

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