The issue of Iran is on the agenda of both the Israeli government and the international community and it is currently being dealt with through close contacts between the government and European governments and America.

Special cabinet session marks Int’l Holocaust Remembrance Day – 26 Jan 2006

The briefing [by the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism] discussed anti-Semitism in the Arab and Islamic worlds and pointed out that Jews are one of al-Qaida’s preferred targets. The intentions of Jihadist elements to perpetrate terrorist attacks against Jewish targets were seen this year as well. Iran stands out as a leader in anti-Semitic propaganda in the Islamic world, which finds expression in calls for Israel’s destruction, the demonization of Israel, Holocaust-denial, and blood libels.

The State of Israel calls on the free world to act against anti-Semitism throughout the world, especially in the Arab world and in Iran, in which there is the impression that anti-Semitism enjoys immunity.

Address by MFA Dir-Gen Ron Prosor to the 6th Herzliya Conference – 22 Jan 2006
The handling of the Iranian threat is being led by the EU 3, and by the Board of Governors at the International Atomic Energy Agency, and we hope in the near future, also by the Security Council.

The first issue on our diplomatic agenda are the ongoing and intensive efforts to prevent and to thwart various threats against Israel’s security. First and foremost among those threats is the Iranian nuclear program. Our determined diplomatic activity has engendered a growing awareness amongst the key international players about the scale of the imminent danger posed by a nuclear Iran.

Today, it is clear that the danger is not only to Israel but also to the common interests and values of the international community as a whole. It should be borne in mind that just two years ago Europe still held the belief that it’s ‘critical dialogue’ was sufficient to deal with the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear armaments program.

Our efforts to thwart their intentions are, at least at this stage, of a diplomatic and not of a military nature. Our diplomacy seeks to have the international community unite and use all the resources at its disposal. We are currently concentrating on 35 member states of the Board of Governors at the International Atomic Energy Agency, to persuade them to transfer the issue to the Security Council. The aim is to have sanctions imposed by a resolution of the Security Council, in order to avert the nightmare scenario of a nuclear-armed Iran. In addition, our proactive diplomacy is a key link in the chain in the fight against local and global terror.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been conducting a special diplomatic offensive to have Hamas and Hizbullah put on the lists of the international terrorist organizations. These lists are an effective tool for restraining the actions of the terror organizations and limiting their ability to raise funds and recruits activists. It enables us to attack their public legitimacy, and to intensify the political and economic pressure on those countries, such as Syria and Iran, that continue to provide support and refuge to the terror organizations

Acting PM Olmert answers questions from journalists – 17 Jan 2006

Question: Can we rely on Europe and America to neutralize Iran’s nuclear aspirations?

Acting PM Olmert: The issue of Iran is on the agenda of both the Israeli government and the international community and it is currently being dealt with through close contacts between the government and European governments and America. I believe that there is a way to ensure that non-conventional weapons do not come to be in irresponsible hands that could endanger world security.

Question: What will Israel do to regarding sanctions on Iran and can sanctions be effective, especially when they are due to raise world oil prices?

Acting PM Olmert: This issue – in all its various aspects – has been well-known to me for a long time, since I began serving in the Government three years ago. The issue on the Israeli government’s agenda and it is certainly on my agenda these days. We are working responsibly with all elements who need to lead measures in the international arena and we will continue to work with these elements both in Europe and America. In no case and at no stage can the State of Israel allow someone with such malicious intentions towards us to control destructive weapons that could threaten our existence. The State of Israel will not accept a situation in which there is a threat against us when, in my opinion, Europe and the US cannot accept it. Within this bloc, we will have worked, and we will work, in cooperation and in consultation with these international elements.

Question: Did you identify a change in the Russian position on the Iranian issue and therefore dispatch the delegation to Russia?

Acting PM Olmert: Russia is certainly one of the factors with whom we are holding contacts on issues related to Iran. There is a continuous dialogue with the Russian government at various levels and there is nothing exceptional about the dialogue that we are currently holding in relation to Iran.

Address by FM Silvan Shalom to the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians – 9 Jan 2006

The entire international community must also recognize the danger posed by a nuclear Iran. The extreme words of the President of Iran, calling for the destruction of the State of Israel, should serve as a wake up call for us all. The Iran portfolio should be immediately transferred to the Security Council of the United Nations, and sanctions should be imposed. We are running out of time. Even today, we have heard that Iran has announced his intentions to renew the enrichment of unranium and research and development. The international community must be determined in meeting these threats. It is not Israel’s problem, but the entire international community’s problem. We cannot allow Iran to have the ability to threaten the world.

In meeting this challenge, weakening the extremists and isolating them is not enough. As we fight the extremists we must at the same time empower the moderates and build bridges of understanding…

Lastly, we must mention the external threat of anti-Semitism, which unfortunately, still exists and is even on the rise. The words of the president of Iran are a fine example. Calling for the destruction of Israel, he at the same time denies the Holocaust. In addition, a few days ago, he expressed his wish for the death of Sharon. It is unacceptable that such statements are tolerated by the international community…

Briefing by FM Shalom to the Cabinet – 8 Jan 2006

Saturday, Iran invited inspectors from the IAEA to be present at the Natnaz site when the Iranians remove the seals from equipment that has been prohibited for use. The equipment is apparently related to centrifuges. The IAEA inspectors have so far not agreed to the removal of the seals and are not cooperating with the Iranians and are not coming to the site.

This comes against the backdrop of a written Iranian announcement last week (January 3) to the IAEA stating that Iran intends to begin, starting Monday (January 9), nuclear R&D. This is evidently a code name for centrifuge activity, an essential step in the development of nuclear capability. This, taken together with the information from Saturday that Iran intends to remove the seals, is a significant development. According to the statement by the Deputy Head of the Atomic Energy Organization in Iran, there are no plans at this stage to begin injecting UF6 gas into centrifuges in the enrichment facility at Natnaz. The Iranians are supposed to meet with representatives of the IAEA in Vienna in order to clarify their intentions. In Vienna, not too much hope is held out for these contacts.

American officials meeting with representatives of EU3 (Germany, France and Britain) seemed to be in agreement that if Iran carries out its intentions, this will spell the end of its contacts with Europe, and will inspire a joint American-European diplomatic effort to adopt a concrete resolution at the Security Council. A rejection of this message by the Iranians will result in cancellation of the meeting between the Europeans and Iran scheduled for 18 January.

On January 7, the Presidency of the EU issued a special statement calling on Iran not to resume the suspended activities, which it calls a surprising and unreasonable step that it views with deep concern, especially at a time when international trust in Iran’s intentions is far from complete. This act jeopardizes the possibility of resuming negotiations.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated on January 5 that the international community will soon be forced to decide whether it is possible to get an Iranian commitment for a civilian nuclear program that does not allow the transfer of technology for the production of nuclear weapons. If it is not possible to proceed to negotiations on this subject, diplomacy will continue on another track, which will probably include submission of the issue to the UN Security Council.

The Iranian announcement, which is a de facto rejection of the Russian proposal to carry out the enrichment on Russian soil, makes it likely that Russia will support the option of bringing the issue to the Security Council. It is becoming harder and harder for Russia to sidestep the need to establish red lines. Incidentally, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister arrived in Iran on Saturday, and later in the month a delegation of the Russian Atomic Energy Organization is scheduled to come.

The Iranian statement reveals increasing self-confidence and points to the failure of international efforts that were declarative in nature and did not succeed in halting Iran’s nuclear program. The inability to bring the subject to the Security Council [until now] strengthens the Iranian feeling of confidence.

I would like to note that the cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Atomic Energy Commission is very good. As soon as the Iranian statement was announced, I directed the Israeli missions around the world to respond immediately and to make our position clear, that Iran is acting in direct contradiction of the European demand at the last meeting in Vienna to refrain from producing parts for centrifuges or continuing with R&D work relating to them.

It is now more important than ever to adhere to the present policy and to exploit all available diplomatic means, while emphasizing that the situation with Iran is a global problem, and not just an Israeli one. This is despite the attempts by Iran’s president to claim that this is a conflict involving only Iran and Israel.

Interview by PM Ariel Sharon to Nikkei – 3 Jan 2006

Q: What do you think of the Iranian nuclear program?

A: The elected Iranian president is showing a willingness to clash with the West and take upon himself many risks than those of his predecessors. He continues to develop and advance his nuclear program while in violation of the Paris Agreement, and continues with on-going efforts to enrich uranium. His constant remarks and recent statements with regard to Israel as well as his actions point out the dangers that Israel faces from such a radical Iranian regime determined to pursue his goal of becoming a nuclear military power. The Iranians are working on two parallel tracks – an open public track and a secret one. With regard to its secret track, Iran continues with her policy of advancing and overcoming its technical shortcomings and they are trying to overcome the missing existing gaps between their public track and their secret track. As far as Israel is concerned, the question or critical issue is not whether or not Iran is successful in acquiring nuclear bombs – this could still take a few years – but when they will have technological ability to acquire nuclear bombs.

Our assessment is that they will be able to overcome this technical shortcoming within one year. In any event time is not working in favor to those who are concerned about Iran reaching or preventing it from reaching its nuclear goals. I wanted to state that Israel is not the spearhead in the struggle of the international campaign to achieve these nuclear capabilities.

We are operating behind the scenes as the U.S. and Europe is carrying most of the burden in this effort. We are working together when it comes to gathering intelligence and evaluating the situation together with the United States and European countries. I think the diplomatic effort has reached the maximum and the moment of truth will come this month or next month. Should there not be a significant breakthrough in the near future then we can expect to see this matter be brought to the UN Security Council in March, with the aim of creating a united and broad coalition in the Security Council to handle this matter in an efficient manner. Japan is now chairing the IAEA and I think it very important that Japan joins this effort and plays an active role in leading this campaign. This of course is very important. I know that Iran is a very important source of oil for Japan – if I’m not mistaken up to 10% of Iran’s oil production is consumed by Japan. But I think there is a great danger with this regime and I believe the world will be a different world if Iran is able to possess nuclear weapons.

Q: In 1981, then Israeli PM Menachem Begin launched air strikes against Iraq in order to prevent Iraqi nuclear development. Facing an imminent nuclear threat from Iran, will you act like Mr. Begin did in 1981 if we reach the critical point and the diplomatic solution is not working?

A: I was then a member of that cabinet when the decision was taken and I had an important role in making this decision then in 1981. First I believe there were different circumstances then. I believe we are still in the phase of diplomatic efforts, Iran should be brought to the Security Council and I believe we are in a phase where sanctions can be taken and we can still stop it.

Q: Do you see a point within this year that you might not be able to stop it with diplomatic efforts?

A: I still believe that it is not a lost case and believe sanctions should be taken and pressure should of course be put on Iran in order to prevent this great danger.