The United States has not abandoned efforts to prevent the nuclearization of Iran or shifted to a policy of containment, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Sunday, on the eve of a two-day summit in Washington on the nuclear issue.
Asked on NBC’s Meet the Press program whether a nuclear Iran was inevitable, Gates said: “We have not drawn that conclusion at all and in fact, we are doing everything we can to try and keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.”
The leaders of 47 countries, sans Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, will be hosted by President Barack Obama at the summit to discuss how to secure nuclear materials such as separated plutonium and highly enriched uranium.
“The threat of nuclear war, as we used to think about it during the
Cold War, has actually decreased,” US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton said on the same NBC program. “But the threat of nuclear
terrorism has increased,” because so much nuclear material “isn’t under
lock and key in many places in the world.”
The US is working
with France, Britain, China, Russia and Germany to craft a fourth round
of United Nations sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
potential economic pressure of sanctions is part of a plan to persuade
Iran that it would be less safe with a nuclear weapon than without,
Gates said. The plan also includes a stronger missile defense system to
guard against an Iranian assault, he said.
Clinton dismissed a
statement last week by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Iran has
“complete mastery” of nuclear technology and can’t be prevented from
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Iran’s claims “may or may not be accurate,” Clinton said. “Their belligerence is helping to make our case every single day.”
that had doubts about whether Iran’s intentions were serious enough to
warrant sanctions are being persuaded by US evidence and Iran’s own
actions, Clinton said.
“The Iranians have been beating down the
doors of every country in the world to try to avoid a Security Council
resolution,” she said on NBC.
Clinton said Israel had much to
contribute to the nuclear security summit even though Netanyahu chose
to skip it. She said the world’s biggest concern on nuclear security
was that terrorists will get control of bomb-making material, and that
Israel can do much to help thwart that.
Netanyahu decided not to
attend the conference and to send Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor
instead, because he believed Turkey and other Muslim nations would make
an issue of Israel’s nuclear program.
Some Arab and Muslim
countries intend to use the conference to pressure Israel to sign the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel’s policy is neither to confirm
nor deny that it has nuclear weapons.
Turkey’s Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the world on Sunday of turning a blind eye
to Israel’s nuclear program and said that he intends to raise the issue
at the summit in Washington.
Erdogan said Iran’s nuclear program
was being scrutinized because of its membership in the UN’s
International Atomic Energy Agency whereas Israel, which has not signed
a nonproliferation treaty, is “free to do what it wants.”
“We are disturbed by this and will say so,” Erdogan told reporters before his departure for Washington on Sunday.
Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said, in a meeting on Sunday with
families of French Righteous Among the Nations – gentiles who risked
their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust – that the issues for
discussion at the summit needed to be broadened.
the summit on preventing nuclear proliferation,” Ayalon said. “The
summit should not just discuss preventing terrorist organizations from
acquiring nuclear weapons but also rogue and terrorist states, like
Iran. It is important to stop Iran now as time is running out; we can
measure it in days and weeks.”
A Knesset Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee delegation, led by committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi
(Kadima), received assurances from top Russian government officials,
parliament members and advisers to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in
Moscow on a trip that ended on Sunday that the delivery of S-300
anti-aircraft missiles to Iran would continue to be delayed.
Russian officials criticized Iran for rejecting a Russian proposal to
send some of Iran’s uranium to Russia for enrichment for non-military
The delegation, which signed an accord initiating
ongoing inter-parliamentary dialogue with the Duma and the Federation
Council, included MK Amir Peretz (Labor), coalition chairman Ze’ev
Elkin (Likud), Israel Beiteinu faction chairman Robert Ilatov and Likud
MK Miri Regev.
The MKs told their Russian counterparts that the sanctions on Iran must be serious to succeed.
position on Iran will undoubtedly be influenced by seeing the consensus
in Israel on the issue, as demonstrated by coalition and opposition MKs
speaking in one voice,” Hanegbi said.
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