FM: Iran, Taliban smell weakness in West's N. Korea policy

Israel issues condemnation of Pyongyang's "provocative acts"; accuses regime of undermining peace and security in Middle East.

November 29, 2010 03:17
2 minute read.
FM Avigdor Lieberman with German President Wolff

Lieberman and German President Wolff 311 (do not publish again). (photo credit: Flash 90)

The West’s handling of the crisis in the Korean Peninsula broadcasts a message of weakness to Iran and the Taliban, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday, at a meeting with visiting German President Christian Wulff.

“If the international community is unable to stop North Korea – a poor country isolated in the world – then that sends a very bad message to states like Iran and organizations like the Taliban, who are watching very closely,” the foreign minister said, according to a statement put out by his office.

Lieberman said that while Iran’s rhetoric was aimed at Israel, the country’s prime objectives were the Gulf states and then Saudi Arabia.

Lieberman also issued a rare public call for “massive support” for the opposition and student groups in Teheran, and for broadcasting “messages of freedom” to the Iranian people.

US President Barack Obama came under a great deal of criticism in the summer of 2009 for not doing more to support the opposition groups that took to Iran’s streets en masse, following the rigged elections there.

Lieberman said that the West should be ratcheting up its sanctions against Iran, but instead was “sending a message of weakness.”

“We all understand that Iran is brazenly deceiving the West, and the West wants to be deceived,” he said.

Turning to Israeli-German bilateral ties, Lieberman characterized them as “excellent,” both between the governments and between the two peoples.

There were “flourishing cooperation in many areas,” including “joint projects to extend aid to Third World countries,” he said.

In a related development, the Foreign Ministry on Sunday issued a written condemnation of last Tuesday’s North Korean artillery barrage on a South Korean island, which killed two South Korean marines and two civilians.

The Foreign Ministry said Israel condemned North Korea’s “provocative acts.”

Israel “joins all peace-loving countries in urging North Korea to stop all activities that directly threaten and endanger security and stability in the Korean Peninsula as well as other activities that undermine peace and security in the Middle East,” the statement read.

This formal condemnation, somewhat belated, follows sharp oral condemnations that both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Lieberman made immediately after the attack. Sunday’s statement was an effort to put the criticism formally into writing and the diplomatic record.

The reference to North Korea’s activities that “undermine peace and security in the Middle East” was an apparent allusion to nuclear and missile technology Pyongyang provides countries like Iran and Syria.

An alleged nuclear facility that Israel destroyed in Syria in 2007 was reportedly based on a North Korean design.

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