Iranian official rejects idea of US defensive umbrella; claims Washington should force Israel to disarm.
By JPOST.COM STAFF
Iran on Monday rejected the idea of a US defensive umbrella to protect Washington's regional allies against a nuclear Iran.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi told reporters that "there is no need" for a US defensive umbrella, just for Washington to tell Israel to "dismantle its own 200 nuclear warheads."
Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Iran would not be able to intimidate and dominate the region if the US "extends a defense umbrella" over the Middle East.
Israel does not acknowledge possessing nuclear weapons, but is widely believed to have at least 200 warheads.
After Clinton made the remarks, Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor criticized her for seemingly accepting the inevitability of a nuclear Iran.
In an interview with Army Radio last Wednesday, Meridor had said, "I heard the comments. It was as if they were saying that they have come to terms with such a possibility - and this is a mistake. Right now, we must deal with preventing such an eventuality, not coming to terms with it."
Speaking on a Thai TV talk show earlier that day, Clinton had raised eyebrows by suggesting that the United States would extend a "defense umbrella" over its allies in the Persian Gulf to prevent Teheran from dominating that region "once they have a nuclear weapon."
"We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment: that if the United States extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to develop the military capacity of those [allies] in the Gulf, it is unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer," Reuters quoted Clinton as saying. "We will still hold the door open [for talks with Iran], but we also have made it clear that we'll take actions, as I've said time and time again, crippling action, working to upgrade the defense of our partners in the region."
Last week, in remarks prepared for a major foreign policy address, Clinton said the time for Teheran to respond to the US overture was now. "The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely," she said.
AP contributed to this report
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