Iranian military parade showcasing missiles.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Dore Gold, a senior Israeli diplomat and Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responded to the Iranian foreign minister's claims that Iran wants to join the international battle against Islamic extremism, saying "trusting Iran to stop terrorism is like inviting an arson to join the fire brigade."
The article, penned for the UK news agency The Telegraph, was written in response to an op-ed written by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, in which he claimed that Iran is "prepared to open new horizons, including fighting brutal extremism" after a "fair and balanced [nuclear] deal is reached."
Gold questioned the truthfulness of Zarif's claims, and the idea that Iran, one of the largest economic supporters of global terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, would be a viable partner in the fight against terrorism. "The claim is not only disingenuous but also absurd," he wrote.
"What Zarif is seeking is a leap of faith by his Western readers, who are asked to believe that a country which has been repeatedly identified as the largest state supporter of terrorism in the world will suddenly be altered by an agreement over its nuclear program into an ally against terrorism."
Gold cited several possible reasons to doubt the validity of Zarif's statements, including Iran's backing of Sunni Jihadists with arms and training, which include groups like Islamic Jihad and Hamas. "Lifting the sanctions against Iran would result in a windfall of cash for the Iranian government. Removing these constraints would allow Iran to obtain the wherewithal to fully fund and even expand its terrorist activity worldwide."
Iran and six powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - are trying to end a more than 12-year dispute over Iran's atomic program by negotiating limits on its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.
Iran and major powers gave themselves until Monday to reach a nuclear agreement, their third extension in two weeks, as Tehran accused the West of throwing up new stumbling blocks to a deal.
Both sides say there has been progress in the two weeks of talks, but British Secretary Philip Hammond called it "painfully slow" and he and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, left Vienna saying they would return on Saturday.
"There is no basis for believing [nuclear talks] will possibly work," Gold wrote. "Iran must unequivocally abandon its backing of international terrorism if it ever wants to rejoin the world community." Reuters contributed to this report.