(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday rejected calls by his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd that Israel sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel Radio reported.
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Lieberman said that what matters is not whether countries have joined the treaty, but rather whether they have a responsible government. He noted that Iran is also signed on to the treaty, "but it cheats every day."
Lieberman added that responsible states like Japan, Australia and Germany are able to produce nuclear weapons within a short period of time but did not pose a threat. By contrast, Iran wastes time and misleads the world about its nuclear ambitions.
Rudd told The Australian
that he recognizes Israel's security situation, but that "all states in the region should adhere to the NPT, and that includes Israel."
He added that Israel's "nuclear facility should be subject to IAEA inspection."
Rudd also told The Australian
before arriving in Israel, that, "The position of the Australian government has long been clear. We do not support new settlement construction and the reason is that it undermines the prospects of the successful prosecution of peace negotiations."
Rudd warned that there could be serious consequences if the peace process failed.
On Monday, after arriving in Israel for the third time, Rudd warmly embraced President Shimon Peres who asked him what it was like to be a foreign minister after having been a prime minister.
To take the barb out of the question, he added that he had his own experience in this respect.
“I was going to ask you for guidance,” said Rudd without missing a beat.
treating the question more seriously, he said that he was now able to
give 100 percent of his time to foreign affairs instead of 20% as he had
done as prime minister.
Following their private discussion,
Peres and Rudd held a Q&A session with the members of Rudd’s
delegation, who participated in the third annual Australia-Israel
Leadership Forum.Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.