German FM: World won't let Iran get nukes

"We will continue to stand by Israel's side," and "we will not remain silent when Israel is threatened," Westerwelle tells audience.

May 4, 2012 12:18
2 minute read.
Guido Westerwelle

Guido Westerwelle. (photo credit: Reuters)


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German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Thursday that the global community will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Westerwelle was speaking to the Global Forum of the American Jewish Committee in Washington.

“The current Iranian nuclear program represents an enormous danger not only to Israel but to the region as a whole,” Westerwelle said.

“We cannot and will not accept an Iranian nuclear weapon... We need substantive and verifiable guarantees that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Most western countries believe Iran is seeking to produce a nuclear weapon, using a peaceful civilian energy program as cover.

In contrast to Israeli concerns that talks with Iran will go nowhere and only serve to buy Iran more time to develop its weapons program, the German foreign minister emphasized that “our unity and our resolve are showing results.”

Directly speaking to Israeli concerns, he made clear that “our patience is limited.

We will not accept playing for time. We will not accept talks for the sake of talks.”

Notably, Westerwelle remarked that “the Iranian regime continues to threaten Israel with annihilation,” a point which many international leaders, even those against Iran pursuing nuclear weapons, avoid not wanting to encourage the message of an immediate crisis or need for military action.

“I want you to know that we will continue to stand by Israel’s side,” he told the audience. “We will not remain silent when Israel is threatened or its legitimacy called into question. We will stand up whenever Israel is unfairly singled out in multilateral fora. And we will denounce any incitement against the State of Israel and its right to exist.”

Israel has refused to rule out a preemptive strike to set back or disable Iran’s nuclear facilities. The last week showed an unusually public debate between current government officials and former heads of the various arms of Israel’s security establishment over the advisability of such a preemptive strike.

The P5+1 group, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, met with Iran in Istanbul last month after over a year of a stalemate in negotiations. A further meeting is scheduled for Baghdad on May 23.

Westerwelle also addressed Israel’s relations with many of its Arab neighbors and the currently stalled peace process.

He stated that Germany’s vision was of two states for two peoples “based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps.” Westerwelle continued that the “two-state solution is in Israel’s own best interest to protect and strengthen the Jewish and democratic character” of the state.

The German foreign minister said he agreed with President Shimon Peres who recently called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a “partner for peace.”

He also hailed the continued stability of the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, which is how Israel has enjoyed “peace and security with both of them for the past decades.” He added that everything possible must be done to preserve these treaties.

Two weeks ago, Westerwelle cautioned Egypt not to blow the recent gas crisis between Israel and Egypt out of proportion and to ensure that the dispute is contained.

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