PM: Israel discussing red lines for Iran with US

German FM says there is still time for diplomacy over Iranian nuclear issue; Israeli officials: J’lem plays into regime’s hands by over-embracing Canadian move to cut ties with Tehran.

Uranium-processing site in Isfahan 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Uranium-processing site in Isfahan 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
Israel is discussing with the US what kind of “red lines” need to be drawn to keep Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
Netanyahu, in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation interview, said this could be “a clear delineation of a line which Iran cannot cross in its pursuit of the development of nuclear weapons capability. If Iran saw that, there is a chance, I won’t say it’s guaranteed, but there’s a chance they might pause before they cross that line.”
The CBC interview came two days after Ottawa severed ties with Tehran, a move Netanyahu praised as an important act of “principle and conviction.”
Just before the interview was taped, diplomatic officials expressed reservations to The Jerusalem Post about Israeli leaders giving the Canadians a too crushing “bear hug” following this decision, saying this only strengthened Iran’s line that Ottawa was doing Israel’s bidding.
“It would be better to just quietly thank the Canadians, without the bear hug,” one official said, adding that the Canadian decision was not coordinated with Israel and caught Jerusalem by surprise.
Netanyahu, in his interview, said he never discussed the move with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But maybe, he said, Harper “saw what I see: That last week 120 nations went to Tehran [for the Non-Aligned Movement conference] in the face of all this aggression, all this fanaticism, 120 nations were there and they stood silent.”
Netanyahu said Harper sent a message to the world that said, “We can’t stand for this as civilized nations. We have to build a wall, not of silence, but a wall of condemnation and resolve.
Canada just put a very big brick in that wall that is necessary for the peace of the world.”
The prime minister likened Canada’s move to “standing up to the arsonist and not being neutral between the arsonist and the firefighter. I certainly hope and encourage other countries to take heed.”
Netanyahu, at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, said this step constituted the type of “red line” that the world needed to set down for the Islamic Republic. He said the move sent a “principled message to the world that it is forbidden for the dark regime in Iran to get nuclear weapons.”
He called on the entire international community, “or at least its responsible members,” to follow Canada’s “determined example and set moral and practical red lines in front of the Iranians, lines that will stop the Iranian race to obtain nuclear weapons.”
President Shimon Peres issued a similar statement on Saturday, saying he hoped other countries would emulate Canada’s move.
Diplomatic officials said on Sunday, however, that there was no Israeli diplomatic campaign to get countries to cut ties with Tehran, and third-country requests for other countries to sever diplomatic ties were not something that was generally accepted.
Canadian Foreign Minister John  Baird announced the severing of ties on Friday, saying, “The Iranian regime is providing increasing military assistance to the Assad regime; it refuses to comply with UN resolutions pertaining to its nuclear program; it routinely threatens the existence of Israel and engages in racist anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement to genocide; it is among the world’s worst violators of human rights; and it shelters and materially supports terrorist groups.”
The Iranians angrily denounced the move as an example of Canada “obeying British-Zionist dictated policies.”
The semi-official Fars news agency with ties to the government quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast as saying “The hostile attitude of the incumbent racist Canadian government, in fact, happens in compliance with the policies that are dictated by the Zionists and the British government.”
Fars also quoted Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani on Sunday as saying, “The cheap behavior of the Canadian government which was shown in an inexperienced manner indicates that they are in a state of confusion after seeing a gathering of a majority of the world states in Tehran [during the Non-Aligned Movement summit in late August].”
According to the report, Fars said the Canadians “were making desperate and fruitless attempts to change the positive political atmosphere created by the NAM summit in Tehran through reactionary and passive moves.”
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, during a visit to Israel, said before a meeting with Netanyahu on Sunday that a nuclear-armed Iran was unacceptable to the Federal Republic.
“Nuclear arms in the hands of the Iranian government is not an option and we will not accept this,” Westerwelle said.
Earlier in the day, before meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, he said Germany shared Israel’s concerns and believed that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to the stability of the entire region. But, he added, there was still room for diplomacy.
“We will keep up sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Iran,” he said. “We urgently call on Iran to enter into substantial negotiations.”
Barak said before meeting Westerwelle, who coincidentally arrived just one day shy of the anniversary of the Israeli-German Reparations Agreement in 1952 that strongly divided Israel at the time, that the security cooperation between the two countries was “very good,” as could be seen by the recent signing of an agreement for Israel to buy a sixth German submarine.
“Our relationship with Germany is long, and based on belief in democracy, common values and memory,” Barak said. “We greatly appreciate this relationship.”
Westerwelle, following his meeting with Barak, held a press briefing with German reporters where he was asked about reports in the Egyptian media that Germany had agreed to sell two submarines to Egypt. The German press reported last week that Israel protested this move, amid increasing concern in Jerusalem about various arms sales to the Arab world.
Though Westerwelle told the reporters he did not want to go into specific details about the Egyptian deal, he said that “in all decisions, Israel’s security needs are being taken into account.”