PM Netanyahu: What has been revealed in the recent dramatic events of the Iranian election is that this regime does not enjoy the support of the Iranian people. If the resolve of the international community is strong and firm, then however late the hour the future can be secured.
Interview with President Shimon Peres on Fox News (31 Aug 2009):
PRESIDENT PERES: We don’t have to wait for the report of the IAEA to know about the character of Ahmadinejad. And we know that they’re working very hard, they are covering, they are bluffing. You cannot rely upon them. And if they continue like this, the whole Middle East may become nuclear, and then we shall arrive at a point of no return.
Q: How long does Israel believe it will take Iran to get a nuclear weapon?
PRESIDENT PERES: The differences are a year or two years, less or more. The American estimation is three years. Israel’s is shorter than that.
Q: What would you like to see Western allies do to stop Iran?
PRESIDENT PERES: Well, clearly, economic pressure. Clearly, diplomatic sanctions. And you know, there is one missing link in the effort of the West and even of the Russians, and that is to pay more attention to the missiles. Because if the Iranians say they are not going to develop a nuclear bomb – and that they will declare – what do they need missiles for of such a long range, missiles that can carry nuclear bombs?
Q: If the U.N. Security Council does – best-case scenario – move forward with some sanctions, how long can Israel wait for those sanctions to work?
PRESIDENT PERES: Well, I can’t give you a date, but if they will be good enough, they will have an effect in a very short while. If they will be loose and disorganized, it will be meaningless, so it depends upon the strength of the economic sanction and the effectiveness of it.
Q: If it’s not enough, is Israel prepared to act unilaterally?
PRESIDENT PERES: I think that Israel must be very careful not to create the impression that Iran is a danger only to Israel. Iran is a world danger and Israel should not monopolize this danger. Time is, on Iran’s side, very short. On the other side, we must take very careful consideration before we take any other action.
Q: On a rare trip to a hill just a few hundred yards away from Israel’s border with Gaza, President Peres blamed Iran for supporting Hamas controlling Gaza.
PRESIDENT PERES: Today, Hamas is totally financed, trained and ordered by Iran. And here again, without them, the Palestinians would have already a state.
PM Netanyahu at press conference with German Chancellor Merkel following meeting in Berlin (27 Aug 2009):
The first issue we discussed is Iran. The development of nuclear weapons by the Iranian regime, whose true nature has been exposed in the recent Iranian elections, is something that threatens Israel and threatens the region, and threatens the peace of the world. It’s something that I think concerns us all. Israel expects all responsible members of the international community to address this threat, and I was pleased to hear from Chancellor Merkel that Germany is committed to responsibly addressing this threat. There is not much time. I think that the most important thing that can be put in place are what the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called “crippling sanctions”. It is possible to put real pressure, real economic pressure on this regime. If the major powers of the world unite, obviously it would be best if the United States Security Council could put together such a package, but it is possible for the coalition of the willing to do so even without a UN Security Council decision…
The concern with Iran’s patent and overt attempts to introduce such weapons comes out of the fact that Iran is saying that they want to wipe my country off the face of the Earth, and Iran sponsors terrorists from the two Iranian proxies, Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in the South. They’ve fired 10,000 rockets on our cities and towns. So to think that Iran would have these weapons, or could give it to terrorists, should be of concern not only to Israelis, but rightly for Europeans, Americans, a lot of Arabs – a lot more than people can think, because they understand that such a regime is a menace to the peace of the world. It also happens to threaten the existence of my country, and we’re not threatening the existence of anyone.
Press Conference by PM Benjamin Netanyahu and UK PM Gordon Brown (25 Aug 2009):
PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN: We discussed and will continue to discuss Iran. I made it again absolutely clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we deplore recent comments from the Iranian regime about Israel. Such diatribe has no place in a civilized world. We also share Israel’s concerns over Iranian ambitions to develop a nuclear weapon. The region and world have nothing to fear from a civilian nuclear program in Iran, but Iran’s actions do not make their arguments convincing. Iran needs to cooperate with the international community. It should take up President Obama’s unprecedented offer of engagement. Until then, the international community will continue to view Iranian ambitions with suspicion.
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: We have common hopes and we have also common challenges and I discussed with the Prime Minister the need to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It’s clear such weapons would pose a great threat to Israel, to our region, to the world and I’d like to take the opportunity to commend the continued efforts of the British government to address this threat. There has been a clear voice that comes out of London and from other capitals as well recently and I think that we should expect all responsible members of the international community to show similar resolve.
QUESTION: With the Iranian problem, according to your intelligence how much time do you evaluate is left before Iran reaches the point of no return? And should all measures, if peaceful measures fail or lead to a dead end, do you think that inevitably eventually a military action will have to be taken against Iran if everything else fails?
PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN: As you know, I am not in the habit – and I am not going to break it today – of giving out the detailed intelligence advice that is given to us about matters as sensitive as nuclear weapons. But I do say to you that we recognize the threat that is posed by Iran. We recognise that if they make the decision to go for and to acquire nuclear, it is of profound significance for the rest of the world. We believe that Iran has a choice: they can work with the international community, gain access to civil nuclear power and take their rightful place as a peaceful and important partner in the world; or they can find themselves ostracised and excluded because of their decision to break the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to hide from the world what they are doing to build up nuclear-weapon power.
I hope Iran will make the right decision. I believe President Obama has offered Iran a way forward for this, but I also believe that we have to leave open every option in our dealings with Iran and at the same time, if there is no further progress immediately, I believe the world will have to look at stepping up sanctions against Iran as a matter of priority.
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Time is running out. It is late in the day, but it is not too late. If there is a firm resolve by the international community to apply crippling sanctions – to borrow a phrase from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – then I think this regime will have to make a very difficult decision about its future course. I think it is susceptible to these pressures.
I think what has been revealed in the recent dramatic events of the Iranian election is that this regime does not enjoy the support of the Iranian people. It is far weaker than meets the eye, and if the resolve of the responsible members of the international community is strong and firm, then however late the hour the future can be secured. This is our preference. I think that the stronger those actions and those sanctions are today, the less need there will be for stronger actions tomorrow.
Deputy Prime Minister and Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor in interview to Spiegel Online (24 Aug 2009):
Meridor: … All in all, the peace process [in the Middle East] has become more difficult over the years because of the introduction of religion into this conflict. Arab rulers hated us in the past, but they did it because of nationalistic ideas. Since the (1979) revolution in Teheran, we hear a different tune: The Iranians, Hezbollah and Hamas fight us in the name of religion. This is very bad because people can compromise, but gods never compromise.
SPIEGEL: Are you sure that the Iranians introduced religion into the conflict? Isn’t Jerusalem about religion, too? Aren’t the ultraorthodox settlers claiming the Holy Land for themselves because of their God-given rights?
Meridor: You can’t compare these things. The previous pope (John Paul II) said that Jerusalem is sacred to all religions but was promised to one people. We have no religious claim on Jerusalem; we have a national one. Jerusalem is our capital. We shouldn’t talk about the settlements 90 percent of the time and neglect the most important problems …
SPIEGEL: … like Iran and nuclear weapons.
Meridor: This is certainly a cause of serious concern…
SPIEGEL: John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN, recently claimed that Israel will attack Iran’s nuclear sites by the end of the year. Although the well-informed Israeli newspaper Haaretz did not give an exact timetable for such an attack, it did report that Netanyahu has made the decision to bomb Iran. Is this true?
Meridor: I don’t think the prime minister has made up his mind in the way it has been described…
Let me say this much: I think Iran shouldn’t be allowed to become a nuclear power. This is not only an issue for Israel but for the whole world. It would be a victory for the extremists over the moderates in the Arab world. This worries the moderate Arab countries more than anything else. It would change the equilibrium in the Middle East; it would mean the end of the (Nuclear) Non-Proliferation Treaty; it would be a serious threat for us. One shouldn’t forget that Iranian President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad has repeatedly spoken about the illegitimacy of Israel and its destruction. But we should concentrate now on harsher sanctions against Teheran, with America leading the way. And we are counting on the Europeans to follow with serious actions. This includes Germany, which is one of Iran’s very important trading partners.
President Shimon Peres meets with Russian President Medvedev (18 Aug 2009):
President Peres stated that "The problem with Iran is not only the desire to produce nuclear weapons, but also the character of the regime. Mr. President – I am a Jew. A large portion of my family were murdered by the Nazis, and I am unable to sit and do nothing when I hear the Iranian president calling for the destruction of Israel. From my point of view, a nuclear weapon in Iranian hands has only one meaning – a flying death camp. I am not saying that he will do that tomorrow morning, but there is no doubt that it will take place. The fact that Iran is investing billions of dollars in the development of long-range missiles, in parallel to its nuclear project, is clear indication of its intent."
President Peres added that "Israel is not threatening any country in the world. We do not have territorial or political ambitions. We do not want additional lands. Iran constantly threatens not only Israel, but also the entire world. Furthermore, it is impossible to determine into whose hands the nuclear weapons will fall. Terrorist organizations operate around the world, and they do not hesitate, as you know, to use any means at their disposal."
President Peres and President Medvedev also discussed the sale of Russian weapons and military hardware to countries hostile to Israel, including Iran. President Peres stressed that the sale of these weapons could damage the delicate balance of power in the region, and requested the Russian president, in the name of the State of Israel, to reconsider Russian policy in regard to this, and stressed that Israel has concrete proof of Russian weapons being transferred to terrorist organization by Iran and Syria, especially to Hamas and Hizbullah.
President Medvedev noted that "Russia is opposed to nuclear weapon s in Iranian hands – this situation worries us all, and we have no doubt that should Iran acquire nuclear weapons, it will lead to a nuclear arms race of other Middle Eastern countries. This is a very bad scenario." President Medvedev added that in his recent meetings with U.S. President Obama, a lot of time was dedicated to this issue, and that President Obama revealed a very constructive approach to the solution of the Iranian problem.
President Peres meets with Ambassador Yutaka Iimura, special envoy of the Japanese government to the Middle East (6 Aug 2009):
The two also discussed the strengthening of North Korea and the Iranian nuclear issue. Ambassador Iimura told President Peres that "Japan is concerned with the developments in North Korea. The regime is very isolated and dangerous, and the fact that they have carried out two nuclear tests is a severe existential threat to the neighboring countries."
President Peres replied that he agrees with this observation, and added that "North Korea attempted to help Syria become a nuclear state." The President added: "I see great similarities between the North Korean and Iranian regimes – both are wallowing in corruption, the use of force, and starvation of their people. The combination of these characteristics and their nuclear aspirations make them dangerous."
Interview with FM Liberman on Israel’s Channel 9 (4 Aug 2009):
Two axes have developed in Latin America. On the one hand, the leftist pro-Iranian axis comprised of Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and to a certain extent also Ecuador. On the other hand, Panama, Chile, Peru, and first and foremost, Colombia which is the main outpost against the Iranian influence. Currently, Hezbollah activists work openly in South America and there is a powerful Iranian presence…
Iran is very active and influential in former Soviet republics, especially in places such as Armenia and Tajikistan. This cannot be disregarded. It is still unclear to what extent it has involved these countries in its terrorist activity against Israel, and we cannot base ourselves just on media reports.
Iran is using all resources and footholds for shipping weapons to Lebanon. We have information from trusted sources that this is done first and foremost through Syria and Sudan. Israel carefully monitors all Iranian activity, both in former Soviet republics and in Middle East countries such as Syria and Sudan. Unfortunately, Iran has not curbed its enthusiasm and continues to be increasingly active. It uses foreign policy and terrorism to compensate for its internal problems. We try to monitor this activity and be on guard.
President Peres meets with US Republican Congressmen (4 Aug 2009):
What will happen if we do not attain peace? I am afraid that the Middle East will go nuclear, and nobody is interested in seeing the Middle East becoming nuclear. This is a point of no return. It would be a mistake that all of us would regret. We have to stop the Iranians and we have to prevent others from going this way.