Gates: Nuclear Iran not inevitable

In Moscow, Russia assures MKs it won't send S-300s to Iran for now.

Gates points 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Gates points 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The United States has not abandoned efforts to prevent the nuclearization of Iran or shifted to a policy of containment, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Sunday, on the eve of a two-day summit in Washington on the nuclear issue.
Asked on NBC’s Meet the Press program whether a nuclear Iran was inevitable, Gates said: “We have not drawn that conclusion at all and in fact, we are doing everything we can to try and keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.”
The leaders of 47 countries, sans Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, will be hosted by President Barack Obama at the summit to discuss how to secure nuclear materials such as separated plutonium and highly enriched uranium.
“The threat of nuclear war, as we used to think about it during theCold War, has actually decreased,” US Secretary of State HillaryClinton said on the same NBC program. “But the threat of nuclearterrorism has increased,” because so much nuclear material “isn’t underlock and key in many places in the world.”
The US is workingwith France, Britain, China, Russia and Germany to craft a fourth roundof United Nations sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
Thepotential economic pressure of sanctions is part of a plan to persuadeIran that it would be less safe with a nuclear weapon than without,Gates said. The plan also includes a stronger missile defense system toguard against an Iranian assault, he said.
Clinton dismissed astatement last week by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Iran has“complete mastery” of nuclear technology and can’t be prevented fromusing it.
Iran’s claims “may or may not be accurate,” Clinton said. “Their belligerence is helping to make our case every single day.”
Countriesthat had doubts about whether Iran’s intentions were serious enough towarrant sanctions are being persuaded by US evidence and Iran’s ownactions, Clinton said.
“The Iranians have been beating down thedoors of every country in the world to try to avoid a Security Councilresolution,” she said on NBC.
Clinton said Israel had much tocontribute to the nuclear security summit even though Netanyahu choseto skip it. She said the world’s biggest concern on nuclear securitywas that terrorists will get control of bomb-making material, and thatIsrael can do much to help thwart that.
Netanyahu decided not toattend the conference and to send Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridorinstead, because he believed Turkey and other Muslim nations would makean issue of Israel’s nuclear program.
Some Arab and Muslimcountries intend to use the conference to pressure Israel to sign theNuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel’s policy is neither to confirmnor deny that it has nuclear weapons.
Turkey’s Prime MinisterRecep Tayyip Erdogan accused the world on Sunday of turning a blind eyeto Israel’s nuclear program and said that he intends to raise the issueat the summit in Washington.
Erdogan said Iran’s nuclear programwas being scrutinized because of its membership in the UN’sInternational Atomic Energy Agency whereas Israel, which has not signeda nonproliferation treaty, is “free to do what it wants.”
“We are disturbed by this and will say so,” Erdogan told reporters before his departure for Washington on Sunday.
DeputyForeign Minister Danny Ayalon said, in a meeting on Sunday withfamilies of French Righteous Among the Nations – gentiles who riskedtheir lives to save Jews during the Holocaust – that the issues fordiscussion at the summit needed to be broadened.
“Israel valuesthe summit on preventing nuclear proliferation,” Ayalon said. “Thesummit should not just discuss preventing terrorist organizations fromacquiring nuclear weapons but also rogue and terrorist states, likeIran. It is important to stop Iran now as time is running out; we canmeasure it in days and weeks.”
A Knesset Foreign Affairs andDefense Committee delegation, led by committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi(Kadima), received assurances from top Russian government officials,parliament members and advisers to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev inMoscow on a trip that ended on Sunday that the delivery of S-300anti-aircraft missiles to Iran would continue to be delayed.
TheRussian officials criticized Iran for rejecting a Russian proposal tosend some of Iran’s uranium to Russia for enrichment for non-militarypurposes.
The delegation, which signed an accord initiatingongoing inter-parliamentary dialogue with the Duma and the FederationCouncil, included MK Amir Peretz (Labor), coalition chairman Ze’evElkin (Likud), Israel Beiteinu faction chairman Robert Ilatov and LikudMK Miri Regev.
The MKs told their Russian counterparts that the sanctions on Iran must be serious to succeed.
“Russia’sposition on Iran will undoubtedly be influenced by seeing the consensusin Israel on the issue, as demonstrated by coalition and opposition MKsspeaking in one voice,” Hanegbi said.