Defense Minister Ehud Barak cast doubt Thursday on the success of upcoming nuclear negotiations between the West and Iran.Despite the strongest-ever sanctions against the Islamic Republic, Barak said in an Independence Day speech, "the chances that, at this pressure level, Iran will respond to international demands to irreversably stop its program seem low. I would be happy to be proven wrong."The United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia (the P5+1) are due to meet Iran for a second round of nuclear negotiations on May 23 in Baghdad.Warning that a nuclear-armed Iran would set off a regional nuclear arms race with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and "the new Egypt," Barak said the Iranian nuclear issue was a "challenge for the whole world." The more countries have nuclear know-how, he added, the more likely nuclear technology would leak to terrorist groups."Dealing with Iran's determination to achieve military nuclear capabilities is not devoid of complexities, dangers or unpredictable results," he said. But dealing with the challenge of a nuclear-armed Iran would be "infinitely more complex, infinitely more dangerous, infinitely expensive in human lives and financial resources."
President Shimon Peres said in a Thursday interview with Channel 10 that the world's stance against Iran's nuclear program would make it impossible for Iran to triumph on the issue."There is no chance Iran will triumph over the world, and there is every chance the world will triumph over Iran," Peres said, asking rhetorically whether Iran or the world was under greater pressure.Asked whether he could understand Iran's desire to develop nuclear capabilities, Peres replied, "I can understand it, but I cannot justify it."