Jerusalem, December 24, 2003

Statement on Interview by DM Mofaz on Israel Radio
(Communicated by the Media Advisor to the Minister of Defense)

A week ago, the defense minister was interviewed, in Persian, on Israel Radio, which is also picked up in Iran.

In the interview, which dealt mostly with political issues, he also answered questions from listeners in Iran. The minister kept a conciliatory and restrained tone, and even emphasized the importance of the connection between Israel and Iran.

In answer to a listener’s question regarding Israel’s response in case of an Iranian nuclear attack, the minister answered: "If God forbid, Iran were to obtain nuclear weapons and would threaten to use them against Israel. Israel will know how to defend its citizens. Minister Mofaz reinforced his position by saying, "the United States is at present leading the process of the Additional Protocol… And I think that for the present time, this is the right thing to do."

The defense minister did not mention the possibility of an Israeli attack against Iran. The minister’s answers showed restraint. They were intended to proffer the hand of peace and sent a reassuring massage to the citizens of Iran.

In these times, when security is a complex and difficult reality, the minister takes advantage of every opportunity to boost diplomatic and international efforts on the question of weapons of mass destruction, while insuring the security of Israel’s citizens.

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Statement by Voice of Israel Farsi (Persian) Section on Dec 15, 2003 interview with DM Mofaz
(Communicated by The Voice of Israel, Farsi [Persian] Section)

Following is a statement by the Voice of Israel Farsi (Persian) Section Director Menashe Amir:

On Monday, Dec 15, 2003, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz was interviewed on the Voice of Israel’s Farsi (Persian) broadcasts and responded to questions from listeners in Iran.

All of Minister Mofaz’s answers to listeners’ questions regarding the Iranian nuclear threat emphasized the importance of the friendship which prevailed in Iranian-Israeli relations prior to the rise of the fundamentalist regime in Teheran.

I very much regret that an incorrect quotation from Minister Mofaz’s remarks that appeared in reports in Israel about the interview, and the erroneous interpretations that were based on remarks that the Minister never made, have provided the Iranian regime with an excuse to begin a propaganda campaign against the State of Israel and to create an atmosphere of warlike tension.

The Voice of Israel Farsi (Persian) Section, in its news broadcasts since this past Sunday, has put matters straight and has even rebroadcast both the Defense Minister’s remarks and their translation into Farsi in order to show that all of the Minister’s remarks to the citizens of Iran were those of friendship and reconciliation, and that there was no hint of threat. Nevertheless, the Iranian Defense Minister and other VIPs in the leadership have seen fit to reiterate the incorrect remarks that were published in Israel in order to step up the propaganda and fan the flames of hatred toward the State of Israel.

In order to put matters straight in the Israeli media as well, here is a transcript of a question from an Iranian listener on the nuclear issue and Minister Mofaz’s reply:

Question of listener (in Farsi): "Israel’s nuclear strategy is based on the premise that if Israel is subject to an Iranian nuclear attack, Israel will respond with a nuclear attack. But the problem is that the leaders of the Islamic regime in Iran have repeatedly declared that they attribute no importance whatsoever to the lives of Iranian citizens. Isn’t Israel’s strategy on this issue mistaken? What does the Minister think about this issue?" Answer of Minister Shaul Mofaz (in Hebrew): "Currently, the United States, together with the [UN] Security Council is leading the additional protocol process vis-a-vis intrusive inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities and I believe that, at the present time, this is the correct thing to do." The Minister continued: "If – Heaven forbid – in the future, Iran obtains nuclear weapons and threatens to use them against the State of Israel, the State of Israel will know how to defend its citizens without harming Iranian citizens."

We have the full transcript and will put it at the disposal of all who so wish. Minister Mofaz’s remarks were made in Hebrew and may be heard exactly as they were broadcast. The Minister’s remarks contained no statement that could be interpreted as indicating aggressive intentions toward Iran on the nuclear – or any other – issue, such as Iran’s increasing support for Palestinian terrorism.

In this interview, Minister Mofaz also emphasized the importance of the diplomatic efforts now being made by the United States and the [UN] Security Council to get Iran to abandon plans to produce a nuclear bomb.

The Minister’s remarks were enthusiastically received by listeners in Iran, most of whom expressed deep admiration for the State of Israel and a shared fate with the Jewish people. I gained the impression that the Defense Minister, throughout the interview, repeatedly extended his hand in peace to the citizens of Iran and emphasized the importance of cooperation between the two peoples, including in regard to the security and prosperity of the entire region.