Israel hopes recent sanctions against Iran will get Tehran to stop its nuclear
development, but if it does not, Jerusalem “is keeping all options on the
table,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told 15 ambassadors to the UN
Thursday in New York.
Lieberman’s comments during a meeting with the
ambassadors, including eight whose countries are on the UN Security Council,
came amid a steady drumbeat of bellicose comments from both Israel and
Among those in the room was the UN envoy from
Meanwhile, Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the Russian Foreign
Ministry’s security and disarmament department, told Interfax that Israel’s
hard-line approach on Iran could have “catastrophic” results for the
Ulyanov was quoted by AFP as saying that “the inventions”
concerning Iran’s possible development of nuclear arms “are increasing the
tension and could encourage moves toward a military solution with catastrophic
The “noise” over Iran’s nuclear intentions has “political
and propaganda objectives which are far from being inoffensive,” he
Ulyanov’s comments came less than a week after Russia blocked a UN
Security Council resolution condemning Syrian President Bashar Assad for killing
hundreds of his own countrymen, and one Israeli diplomatic official said the two
events were linked.
“A country bending over backward to defend Syria is
now making common cause with Iran, which is doing the same,” the official said,
noting that Russia had “invested all its stock in Syria and Iran,” and as those
countries were increasingly in trouble, Moscow was just “raising the stakes”
rather than ending its investment.
“In the end it’s the same old trick,”
the official said. “Blame Israel.”
Lieberman, during his meeting with the
ambassadors, warned Hezbollah against creating a “provocation” on the northern
border to divert attention from the situation in Syria.
“We hope this
won’t happen, but are ready for that possibility,” he said.
NBC news quoted US officials
as confirming Iranian charges that a spate of
assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists was the work of an Iranian
dissident group trained, financed and armed by Israel.
Muhammad Javad Larijani, a senior aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khameni, as saying Israel was paying the group, known as the People’s Mujahedeen
of Iran, recruiting agents and managing logistical support. He said Iran’s
information was based on the interrogation of an “assassin who failed to carry
out an attack in late 2010.”
An official in the Prime Minister’s Office,
when asked about the report, said, “We don’t comment on that sort of media
speculation, which most of the time is incorrect.”
In a related
development, The New York Times
reported Thursday that Israel and the US were at
odds over whether Iran’s crucial nuclear facilities were about to become
The debate stems from Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s
increasing use of the term “zone of immunity” to describe the point beyond which
Iran’s key nuclear facilities are so fortified that a military attack on the
country would become ineffective.
For the US, the “point of no return”
for Iran is when its leaders make the political decision to assemble a bomb.
While Israel and the US agree on the perception of Iran’s threat and, to a large
extent, on how far its program has developed, there is a significant time
difference between when Iran becomes “impregnable” to attack, and when its
leaders make the decision to assemble a bomb.
That difference is
important when it comes to how much time the stepped-up sanctions should be
given, with the “zone of immunity” allowing for much less time.
to the New York Times
report, Obama administration officials said that Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “does not favor the phrase ‘zone of immunity.’” But
one Prime Minister’s Office official, who was not willing to comment on the bulk
of the report, would say only that regarding Iran, Barak and Netanyahu were “on
the same page.”
In Bogotá, meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny
Ayalon, holding a strategic dialogue with Colombian counterparts, called on
to increase its oil production so that the European embargo of Iranian
oil would not drive up market prices. Colombia’s oil production has skyrocketed
in recent years, and it now produces almost as much oil as Algeria.
country’s main rival in South America is Venezuela, which has close ties to
Colombia became a temporary member of the UN Security Council this
year, and also heads the UN’s sanctions committee against Iran.
the meeting, Ayalon called Colombia Israel’s “strategic ally in Latin America,
and a courageous partner in promoting world security and stability.”