Vladimir Putin addresses supporters 390 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Aleksey Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Pool)
Don’t worry about Iran, Israel will take care of it, former Spanish prime
minister José Maria Aznar quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin as telling him
a number of years ago.
Aznar, speaking on Wednesday at the Jerusalem
Center for Public Affairs about a meeting he had with Supreme Leader Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei in 2000, said Putin’s comments came after he entreated the Russian
president not to sell S300 surface- to-air missiles to Iran.
– I, you – we can sell them everything, even if we are worried by an Iranian
nuclear bomb,” Aznar quoted Putin as saying, getting close to him and whispering
the words in his ear. “Because at the end of the day, Israel will take care of
Aznar, one of the few Western leaders to have met Khamenei, said the
Iranian leader made it clear when they met in October 2000 that “Israel was a
historic cancer and an anomaly, a country to be put in flames and condemned to
Aznar added that he found in Khamenei a man not only inspired by faith, but also
“more nationalistic than I imagined.” He said the ayatollah wanted Iran
to flourish in all fields, especially science and technology, to attain
self-sufficiency and independence.
It was this desire for
self-sufficiency, he said, which has led the Iranians to strive to develop their
own nuclear weapons, rather than buy a bomb from North Korea or
The former Spanish prime minister noted that Khamenei said
clearly, though softly and through an interpreter, that “an open confrontation
with Israel and the US was inevitable,” and “he was working for Iran to prevail
in such a confrontation.”
Khamenei viewed this as his duty as “the
ultimate vanguard of the Islamic global revolution,” Aznar
continued. Khamenei was explicit about “it [being] necessary to eliminate
the threat Israel posed,” Aznar remembered, adding that this obviously meant the
supreme leader believed Israel must be “removed.” Asked whether Khamenei used
the word “eliminate,” he said: “Finish, eliminate, end their
Aznar said Khamenei was worried that Israel and the US would
pervert his society, and that he viewed the threat of the West “not only in
military terms, but in cultural terms – in values more than
Regarding next week’s scheduled talks in Baghdad between Iran
and the world’s powers – the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany –
Aznar said it was incumbent upon the international community to precisely define
the limits of the negotiations. Otherwise, he warned, the Iranians would simply
play for time.
Aznar led Spain’s government from 1996 to 2004. Since then
he has been an outspoken supporter of the Jewish state, and founded the Friends
of Israel Initiative, a project to defend Israel’s right to exist that includes
in its ranks a number of other notable international figures.
delivering his lecture on Wednesday, Aznar met with Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu. No details from that meeting were made available.