Peres: Talk of us hitting Iran is absurd

President's remarks come after Gates warns against dangerous consequences of attacking nuclear sites.

Natanz 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Natanz 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Speculation that Israel might launch an attack against Iran in order to rid itself of a nuclear threat was dismissed as "nonsense" by President Shimon Peres on Thursday. The matter was broached in discussion between Peres and US special envoy George Mitchell, with reference to the warning by US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that an Israeli strike against Iran would have dangerous consequences. Gates, in a meeting with Marine Corps students earlier this week, conceded that a strike might delay the Iranian nuclear program by as much as three years, but said that it would also unify Iran and "cement determination to have a nuclear program." Iran's acquisition of a nuclear bomb could be prevented only if the "Iranians themselves decided it's too costly," he said. Peres told Mitchell that a military solution to the Iranian nuclear threat was not an option, and once again said that a united front on the part of the United States and Europe would prove to be a deterrant. Mitchell assured Peres that America was totally committed to Israel's security. He also reiterated America's commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The two men also discussed Durban II. Peres was highly critical of the fact that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been invited as a guest of honor to the conference, and questioned the ability of the conference participants to stop the supply of arms to Gaza. Israel would not tolerate the continuation of weapons smuggling nor would Israel wait with folded arms until such time as rockets were aimed at Tel Aviv, said Peres, who stressed that any attempts to rebuild Gaza must conducted in a fashion that assures that Hamas does not get hold of any of the funds, but they are used solely for the purpose for which they are intended. Peres also noted that Arab leaders are concerned about Iranian ambitions to rule the whole of the Middle East. With regard to US President Barack Obama's plans to bring peace to the region, Peres told Mitchell that they are in line with those of Israel. Israel has always been interested in having peace in the region, said Peres, but not at the expense of its own security.