Confronting Iran’s nuclear program

Our nation has proven time and again that it can and will protect itself and will not ask others to shed blood on our behalf.

Iranian nuclear scientist assassination 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iranian nuclear scientist assassination 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel faces one of its greatest security challenges as Iran moves ever closer to nuclear weapons capability.
Israel knows this, and now the international community is more than ever painfully aware of this fact following the release of the latest IAEA report.
Unfortunately, diplomatic negotiations and economic sanctions have not stopped the centrifuges from spinning and Iran races toward nuclear weapons capability.
No one in the international community recognizes the threat to regional and global stability posed by a bellicose, nuclear Iran better than our closest friend and ally, the United States. As the head of the Israeli delegation to the biannual US-Israel Strategic Dialogue for the past three years I can tell you from firsthand experience how engaged the American establishment is on the issue.
Our cooperation on this issue is more intimate than ever and there is a very real understanding of the grave strategic threat a nuclear Iran that calls daily for the destruction of Israel will pose to our nation. Moreover, there is a clear American commitment at the highest level to ensure Iran will not achieve nuclear capability.
However, relations between Israel and the United States transcend bilateral security cooperation. They are based on a shared history, similar values and a common ethos.
They transcend political outlook and party affiliation.
A number of years ago, while I was serving as ambassador in Washington, DC, I attempted to schedule meetings for then-prime minister Ariel Sharon with the Senate Republican and Democratic leadership.
However, due to scheduling issues it was impossible to hold separate meetings.
In the end the prime minister met the leaderships in a joint meeting which was so unusual that the Republican leader Trent Lott proclaimed that the only issue that could get both leaderships into the same room was Israel, while the Democratic leader Tom Daschle stated that when it comes to Israel, there are no Democrats and no Republicans, just Americans.
I felt the depth of this support in many of the positions in which I have served, perhaps none more so than when I was Israel’s ambassador in Washington. I felt such support in my visits throughout America and was constantly overwhelmed by the warmth of the people and their admiration for Israel.
Perhaps one of the reasons for this close affinity is the fact that Israel is one of the only allies that will not ask American soldiers to fight on its behalf. We have not, nor will we ever ask for American interests to be placed in harm’s way purely for Israel’s benefit.
Our nation has proven time and again that it can and will protect itself and will not ask others to shed blood on our behalf.
However, regardless of our shared interests and values, by nature of significant differences between our size, geographical location and geostrategic position we will sometimes have different views on developing global events.
Our friendship is mature and successful enough to acknowledge and accept differing views and to work toward a common policy on issues with shared interests.
On Iran, both Israel and the United States have repeatedly stated that all options remain on the table to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. I have heard nothing to persuade me that this is not the case, in closed meetings or in repeated statements.
Nevertheless, above all, the democratically elected government of the State of Israel has as its prime task the responsibility to protect its people from any and all threats. Any sovereign nation would act in a similar fashion and we need to make our calculations with almost eight million people in mind. This is our brief and our deep, enduring responsibility.
This is the responsibility of every sovereign nation state and none more so than the Jewish state, reestablished only a few short years after a third of our people were annihilated by a genocidal regime that gave the world enough hints about its intentions even before the gas chambers and ovens were put into action.
Many have criticized Israel’s recall of the events leading to the Holocaust, but as George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Many belittle the threat of Iran because they can not fathom a regime that would endanger its own existence for the sake of the mass murder of another people. However, the Holocaust is so fresh in our national conscience that we would be irresponsible to ignore its dire lessons and consequences.
The United States is aware of the painful dilemmas involved in our national security, we have received backing when we needed it and I am certain we will receive it again in the future, regardless of the challenge.
The writer is the deputy foreign minister.