Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Yuval Steinitz.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The outcome of American efforts to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program will have an “enormous impact” on Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons in the coming decade, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said Wednesday.
Speaking at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, Steinitz told an audience of international envoys that what happens between the United States and North Korea is extremely relevant to the Middle East’s nuclear future.
“Once North Korea really dismantles its nuclear infrastructure, the pressure within Iran to capitulate will be enormous,” said security cabinet member Steinitz.
“On the other hand, if North Korea manages to preserve its nuclear arsenal, pressure on the Iranians to proceed to develop nuclear weapons will be enormous,” he said.
Steinitz expressed his satisfaction over US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Iran nuclear agreement in May, to force Iran to completely and permanently dismantle its nuclear infrastructure.
“As Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu emphasized, the only potentially existential threat to Israel comes from Iran,” Steinitz said, adding that Israel is continuing the fight to prevent “so far unsuccessful” Iranian attempts to use and abuse the Syrian civil war to turn the country into an Iranian military stronghold.
Iran does not intend “to bring proxies, but the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, its air force, missiles and air-defense systems into Syria in order to threaten Israel’s northern border from immediate proximity,” Steinitz said.
Turning to matters of energy, Steinitz said it is “extremely remarkable and almost unthinkable that little Israel is becoming an energy supplier to two important Arab states.”
Israel is expected to commence the sale of natural gas to Jordan and Egypt next year, in deals valued at a combined $26 billion. An initial agreement has also been signed to directly export natural gas to European countries through the construction of the longest and deepest gas pipeline in the world.
“Although our main focus is to provide Israel with energy security and clean energy, the fact that through the gas framework we will export energy in the very near future to the European Union is going to be significant and remarkable, and we will need this influence in Europe in the future,” Steinitz said.
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