(photo credit: AP)
President Shimon Peres met Wednesday with former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who is in Israel to help promote economic peace initiatives between Israel and her neighbors.
Albright, who was accompanied to Jerusalem by US Ambassador Richard Jones, asked Peres for his reaction to the US intelligence report on Iran's nuclear capability.
Peres replied that from time to time intelligence reports in various parts of the world had proved flawed over the course of history.
But with regard to Iran, he said, there was no room for compromise or the luxury of error. It was imperative to focus on the clear warning signals that transcended all intelligence reports, he added.
From the moment Iran had sufficient nuclear power for civilian needs, Peres said, it would begin to develop weapons of mass destruction.
No intelligence agency in the world could know with absolute accuracy how much technological know-how had been made available to Iran by North Korean and Syrian nuclear scientists, he said.
Peres painted a sobering picture of the world waking up in the morning to discover that nuclear technology had been transferred to Iran in full and without disturbance and was about to be activated.
He also referred to Iran's development of long-range missiles, which he said was cause for concern and something that should be placed on the global agenda. There was no doubt that Iran was spending billions of dollars on the development of long-range missiles with nuclear warheads that could be targeted at any place in Europe, he said. There was no justification for the development of such missiles, he added.
But the most crucial factor, Peres said, was that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad publicly declared his desire and intention to eradicate the State of Israel and to destroy the free democratic world.
It would be a fatal mistake if the world now took a calm attitude towards Iran, he said, adding that the battle to prevent Ahmadinejad from developing a nuclear bomb must continue.
Albright said the intelligence report was problematic, and that Peres's remarks should be taken into careful consideration.