MR. ROBERTSON: Well, joining us now is Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister and former Ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon.
Danny, it’s always a pleasure to have you with us.
MR. AYALON: Thank you. Good to be here, Gordon.
MR. ROBERTSON: Is there a point of time with Iran that you say we can’t allow any further diplomatic efforts and initiatives – that we’ve got to take some kind of action to stop them from getting a nuclear weapon?
MR. AYALON: Yes, absolutely. You know, they have been relentless in working on their nuclear programs, violating all their obligations and international law. Their intransigence, I think, defies logic – certainly since the United States is trying to reach out and to reason with them on a peaceful accord and with honor and dignity, and they refuse all this.
Probably a year’s time from now is when they will cross a point of no return whereby they will have all the capabilities, where they cannot be stopped. And after that, they can weaponize, they can have enough uranium, highly enriched uranium, to have at least one bomb, and then they weaponize it.
If they are unstopped, probably in three to four years they will have massive nuclear capability.
MR. ROBERTSON: If you were advising the Obama Administration now, what would you tell them in terms of how to deal effectively with the Iranians?
MR. AYALON: Well, you know, the United States is our best friend and ally and we share the same interests, the same values, and we’re working for the same goal. I really applaud the administration’s attempt to reach out to the Iranians, but there should be a time limit to that. And if this outstretched hand by the Americans and the international community is to no avail, there should be repercussions.
And the problem right now, Gordon, is that the Iranians pose the dilemma; they throw the dilemma at our doorstep, which means they continue with their program and it’s up to us to think of how to stop it. It’s time to turn the tables over on that, on the Iranians, and tell them to bring it to a stop, or else. So far they have not paid any price.
MR. ROBERTSON: I’ve seen one view that if you look over, say, the last six years of negotiations with them to stop their nuclear program, that it’s been one effort after another just to let talk go off over here but at the same time completely ignoring the UN, any kind of international regulation, any kind of international compliance. On top of that, there’s an effort to split their program into multiple locations to make it much harder as a military target to take them out. Would you agree with that? And aren’t we just seeing more of the same?
MR. AYALON: Yes, but you see, with the Iranians it is very important to remember that they are a very vulnerable country, very weak, the many weaknesses that they have. We have just seen their political and social weakness during these riots. But also economically they are very vulnerable and weak. And if there was a real effective sanctioned regime, they wouldn’t be able to sustain it for more than a few weeks, and then the entire economy, with the government, will collapse.
MR. ROBERTSON: But Ahmadinejad doesn’t really seem to be aware of that as a real possibility. And I think on some level he may actually look forward to that, because that gives him a convenient enemy: It’s not me causing your problems; it’s the Americans causing your problems, or it’s the UN causing your problems, or it’s the Zionists causing your problems. Isn’t that exactly what he’s looking for?
MR. AYALON: Maybe, but here he’s miscalculating because certainly, yes, he would like to put it as the people are with him. But we have seen now, the people are really not with him. And in fact Iran is a police state with no justice, with no rights, with really dire poverty, and the people there are not happy.
MR. ROBERTSON: Does he have any real consolidated power? I mean, it’s unusual to see history repeat itself so almost exactly where there was this phony election, a less-than-majority vote continues a regime, and then in the aftermath — there just seems to be a complete removal of the opposition within Iran. And even the Ayatollah now seems to be on the out and his signature wasn’t even required before Ahmadinejad took power. Are we seeing that again? And isn’t this now a broad consolidation of power?
MR. AYALON: Absolutely, and Ahmadinejad is a very, very astute negotiator and poker player. He doesn’t have too many cards to play with, but he plays with them very well. And part of it is because he sees a less than reasonable response by the international community. Where they acquiesce or where they do not resist and object all his wrongdoings, he becomes more and more bold.
MR. ROBERTSON: You’re talking to an audience of maybe a million evangelical Christians in America, more around the world. How can they help you? How can they help Israel right now?
MR. AYALON: Well, Gordon, I want to tell you that the evangelical Christians in the United States and around the world were a rock of support for us and they really keep our faith up and they make us stronger in an area where if you are not strong you’re being consumed. And so their support, their advocacy, their visits, their tourism, their political support, is second-to-none to us. And I would say the resurgence of this modern-time alliance between Jews and Christians is something which I think is very timely and is very important for the safety of the world.
MR. ROBERTSON: Well, thank you for being with us.