Shalom: US, Israel see eye to eye, are not at war

Vice premier says dispute is about dispute the timetable, slams Russian, Chinese policies on program.

Silvan Shalom on Iran (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Silvan Shalom on Iran
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Israel and the US are “not at war” over Iran, despite the impression given by the media, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom said on Wednesday.
“When I read the newspapers, I found that we are having a war not with Iran, but with the United States. There is no war with the United States,” he told the inaugural conference of the Israeli Jewish Congress in Jerusalem.
“We see eye to eye with America and most of the European countries that Iran should not have nuclear weapons.
“We are close allies and close friends. We will always be close friends with America,” Shalom added.
The current dispute between Israel and the US is about the timetable the international community is setting regarding Iran’s nuclear program, Shalom said.
Israel believed there was less time to counter the nuclear threat while other countries thought they had more time.
“Israel will never tolerate Iran as a nuclear power and we will do everything we can in order to prevent such an eventuality,” he said.
Tensions have escalated between Jerusalem and Washington over Iran this week, amid reports that the White House had rejected an Israeli request for a meeting between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during Netanyahu’s visit to the US later this month.
Shalom also spoke out against China and Russia for their stance on Iran’s nuclear program. He accused Beijing and Moscow of engaging in geopolitical games by not supporting sanctions against Iran in order to keep the US and the West from dominating the Middle East.
“We will never live under the threat of a nuclear Iran, not for Russia or China,” Shalom said. “They have they’re own interests...
They’re afraid that if the Iranian regime falls so will Syria and Hezbollah, and the Middle East will fall into the hands of the US and the West.”
Israel was caught up in this “super-power fight,” he said.
He said that current sanctions were having a significant affect on the Iranian economy, but that even stricter measures need to be imposed to convince the Iranian regime that “abandoning its nuclear program, not persevering with it, was the only insurance against its own downfall.”
Shalom noted, however, the particular impact of the EU embargo on Iranian oil imports that went into effect in July, and said it was having a serious impact on the Iranian economy and the rial, which he claimed had depreciated by 80-100 percent in recent months.
Still, he called on the international community to impose harsher sanctions.
The vice premier said that despite the regime’s drive toward a nuclear weapon the numerous non-Persian ethnic minorities in the country “all hate the ayatollahs’ regime and all want to put an end to it.”
Approximately 60% of Iran’s population are ethnically Persian, with the remaining 40% comprised of Azeris, Kurds and others.