We welcome a concrete effective and time framed international plan, under the leadership of the U.S., to block the Iranian nuclear program.
Interview with FM Avigdor Liberman – El Tiempo, Colombia (30 July 2009):
Israel had a negative experience in connection with the attacks in Buenos Aires. Today we are witnessing an increasingly close relationship between Chavez and the Iranians, and we therefore want to prevent further attacks against Israelis. I’m not going to talk about classified intelligence, but we have sufficient information to raise concerns on our part regarding collaboration between radical Islamic groups and Mr. Chavez. Each passing week brings a new Iranian threat toward Israel or statements denying the existence of the Holocaust; or statements to the effect that Iran supports Hizbullah or Hamas. We therefore view this in an extremely negative light.
Interview with FM Avigdor Liberman in El Comercio, Peru (29 July 2009):
Q: This visit to Peru is part of a Latin American tour, one of whose purposes is countering the Iranian influence in the region. What response have you received from the various countries you visited?
Liberman: There have been several responses. We are not asking countries to decide in accordance with Israeli interests, as we understand very well that everyone has their own. The most important thing is to know the facts well, and that was our task: to present them as we see them ourselves. First, we saw how the election in Iran ended and the government’s response to the legitimate demonstrations of the Iranian youth. If the government itself is willing to kill its young people, it is clear to us that it is a vicious regime and that it will not let any kind of democratic considerations stop it. The live broadcast of the death of a young woman is one of the most horrific images I have seen in recent years.
Also, in the two terrorist attacks that were perpetrated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, against the Israeli embassy (1992) and the Jewish community building, AMIA (1994), hundreds of people died and hundreds more were injured. Most of those killed were not Israelis or Jews but Argentineans. An Argentine judge issued an international arrest warrant against eight Iranians who were heads of intelligence of Iran. Iran is trying to develop atomic weapons, and almost every day the Iranian president (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) denies the existence of the Holocaust. Every day he calls to expel all Jews from Israel and disperse them in the European countries again. They finance all terrorist acts and organizations in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip or Iraq. That is why it is important that the facts be known so that reasonable people may draw their own conclusions.
Q: The Iranian government is strengthening links with governments such as Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. How dangerous do you consider Iran’s influence in our region to be?
Liberman: It is quite dangerous. We can see that the government of Hugo Chavez is trying to influence several of its neighbors, interfering in their internal processes. Bolivia is doing the same thing and we can see it even in Peru. Chavez is someone who completely denies access to freedom of speech and information. It is no coincidence that he has rigged the Constitution so that he can be elected to infinity, and he has shut down a television station and several newspapers that did not agree with him. So, very clear conclusions may be drawn.
Q: What are they? Can you tell us?
Liberman: I do not want to give advice. But they are trying to develop anti-democratic, terrorist activities, and this will hurt all those involved. You must draw your own conclusions.
Q: You met with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is going to hold a meeting with his Iranian counterpart. Are you concerned that this meeting is going to take place?
Liberman: I had a very good meeting with President Lula. As I said earlier, everyone has their own interests. We have different opinions and it is very difficult to change them in a single meeting. Our task is to put forward our concerns and request the change.
Statement by Amb Shalev to the UN Security Council (27 July 2009):
The repeated breaches of Hizbullah of this Council’s demands are indicative of the danger posed to our region by Iran. From southern Lebanon to Gaza, arming, training and financing of terrorism bear the same certificate of origin: Tehran. The Iranian government remains the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism. It sabotages the peace process; it threatens the stability of countries in the region.
Moreover, Iran continues to pursue development of nuclear weapons, together with long-range missiles. This is a clear threat to peace and to security. Such grave realities reflect an unsustainable future.
The Security Council has already addressed this dangerous phenomenon, but there is more to be done on this issue, too. We call upon the Security Council to act urgently and effectively in order to put an end to the Iranian nuclear threat and to stem Iranian terrorist interference. This Council must consider more effective ways to impose its arms embargo along the Lebanese-Syrian border. It should strengthen UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces, and establish clear benchmarks to disarm and dismantle Hizbullah.
Defense Minister Barak meets with US Secretary of Defense Gates (27 July 2009):
The Iranian nuclear program is a central issue in our minds. We do welcome a concrete effective and time framed international plan, under the leadership of the U.S., to block the Iranian nuclear program. We have worries that the continuing of the Iranian program could destabilize the whole region, which will threaten the stability and peace in our region and beyond.
Our position is very clear, we are in no position to tell the administration whether to run an engagement with Iran or not, but if there is an engagement, we believe it should be short in time, objective, well defined, forward by sanctions that won’t take too much time to clarify whether Iran is trying to deceive the whole world or is sincerely ready to cooperate. We clearly believe that no option should be removed from the table. This is our policy. We recommend other to take the same positions.
We are not in a position to tell the U.S. whether to enter a dialogue with Iran or not. But, we continue to clarify – in closed talks with the Americans as well – that our position is that a dialogue of this nature must be limited in time, and should be able to determine whether the Iranians are serious or not.
In our opinion, sanctions that are much more meaningful than those currently imposed should be prepared in advance, preferably in accordance with Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
We are not hiding our position that no option should be removed from the table, and suggest that the others operate in a similar manner, and we mean what we say."
PM Netanyahu meets with US Defense Secretary Gates (27 July 2009)
Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated the seriousness to which Israel views Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the need to utilize all available means to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability.
Remarks by FM Liberman at reception in Lima, Peru (26 July 2009):
We are sure that the biggest problem in the Middle East is, first of all, the Iranians. The President of Iran every week tries to deny the fact of the Holocaust. We saw how they deal with protests in Iran after the last elections. This is a regime that kills even his own citizens, and we can understand its position in the international community. This regime is the biggest sponsor of wide terrorist activity. We have had a very bad experience, here in South America, with two terrorist acts against our embassy and the community center in Buenos Aires. Argentinean courts proved that the people behind these terrorist attacks were Iranians.
And of course what has happened here in South America. There are coalitions and close cooperation with Hugo Chavez, with Bolivia. We can see even here in South America the influence of the axis of the evil.
The Iranians try to interfere in domestic issues in all countries in the Middle East – in Lebanon, in Iraq, in the Gaza Strip. And of course, they attempt to achieve nuclear capabilities. Everybody must understand: even the Arab countries cannot accept the fact that Iran will be a nuclear power in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have said very clearly and openly that if Iran will achieve nuclear capabilities we will see in all our region a crazy nuclear arms race. It is a real threat not only for the Middle East but for the entire world. I think that we must do our best to stop these radicals in the Middle East, in South America, in North Korea, every place in the world. I think that we can stop them, I think that the international community today understand very well what is the situation, and we must try to do this together.
Interview by FM Avigdor Liberman with La Nacion (Argentina) – "The Iranian regime is insane and very dangerous" (26 July 2009):
Q: One of the central reasons for your visit is Israel’s concern over the growing presence of Iran in Latin America. How does this presence represent a threat for both Israel and the region?
A: First, Iran is not only a threat to Israel; it is a threat to the entire world. It should be clear that we are not worried about Iran, because we are a really strong country and we can protect ourselves. The biggest problem with Iran, first of all, is that it is a threat to the Gulf countries, to the Arab countries. The biggest clash we see now in the Middle East is the conflict between Sunnis and Shiites, and of course between the moderate and radical wings of the region. Iran is a threat to Saudi Arabia, a threat to Egypt, and a threat to other countries. Saudi Arabia and Egypt openly say that if Iran develops and achieves nuclear capability, they cannot allow it to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East. As a result, there would be a wild race for nuclear weapons in our region, which would be a real threat to the whole world.
Iran is a major sponsor of terrorist activities in the world. We see the way in which Iran is involved in the internal affairs of Lebanon through Hizbullah and in the Palestinian National Authority through Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and certainly has close ties with radical regimes like that of Hugo Chavez, or that of North Korea, and is a true factor of instability in the international arena.
It is a fact that Iran is involved in terrorist activities in South America, and you know that better than any other people in the world. There have been two terrorist attacks in Argentina, against the AMIA and against our own embassy in Buenos Aires. Iran was involved in these terrorist acts, and we have seen that the Argentine prosecutor, the judge in charge of the investigation, has clearly accused Iran. Over one hundred people lost their lives and more than one hundred were injured, many not Jewish. They were Argentine citizens, Jews, Muslims and Christians.
Iran is a brutal regime, and people all around the world have seen on television how they treat their own people, those who protested after the election. We saw in real time how they murdered a young woman. If a regime is willing to kill their own people, we can imagine perfectly well how they may approach international problems and act vis-a-vis the international community.
Likewise, week after week the president of Iran denies the existence of the Holocaust. Each week he makes a new declaration to expel the Jewish people of Israel to Europe. We believe it is an insane and very dangerous regime and, drawing from the experience of our history, we know what the outcome will be if the international community does not place a deterrent on this extremely radical leadership.
Q: Have you obtained a new commitment from the Argentine authorities regarding the attack on AMIA 15 years ago? Has Israel considered the possibility of internationally denouncing that Iranian agents were involved in organizing such an attack?
A: Argentina has accused eight people, seven of whom are Iranian. We will await the results. We have clearly established our position in all international forums. We now hope that the Security Council makes clear decisions in the next three weeks and penalizes Iran for nuclear proliferation. We expect a message expressing the political resolve to fight the extremists. That is very important to our future.
Q: In recent weeks, [US President] Obama has expressed willingness to offer Iran an opportunity for dialogue. What would happen if Iran does not show a positive attitude?
A: We have not seen any positive attitude so far. For them this is an opportunity to delay matters and buy time. For them, this negotiation process is utter balderdash. Of course they intend to develop nuclear weapons. There are people in the world who claim that the Iranians have the right to have peaceful nuclear capabilities, but it is odd that Iran, with all the oil and gas it has, needs nuclear energy so much. And that in order to expand such peaceful nuclear capability it also needs to develop long-range missiles.
Interview with Dorit Shavit, MFA Deputy Director General for Latin America and the Caribbean – Published by the Jewish News Agency (JNA), 25 July 2009:
(Translated from Spanish)
Dorit Shavit, Deputy Director General for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, warned about the “nuclear interests” motivating Iran’s attempt to encroach on the Latin American continent. Shavit revealed that Venezuela “is offering Iranians false papers” with which they can travel to Caracas, and then “see if they can enter other countries with those documents”. “With those papers, they do not need a visa to enter all other Latin American countries. It seems there are direct flights from Teheran to Caracas. No other tourist enjoys such advantages. Nobody knows what these Iranians are doing,” she said.
Shavit stated that, “the friendship between Iran and Venezuela is evident. [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad visited Caracas several times, and Chávez visited Teheran too”. The two countries had even signed 300 trade agreements, she commented.
“We also know that besides Iran there are Hizbullah cells in Venezuela. We have not yet confirmed that they are involved in terrorist activities, but it has happened in the past and it might happen again,” she said, alluding to the attacks against AMIA (the Argentine Jewish Community Center) and the Embassy of Israel in Buenos Aires. The diplomat pointed out that these groups “raise money saying it is meant for social objectives, but that is not true; they say it will serve to help families in the Middle East, but in fact it is used to purchase arms; that is the purpose of Iranian encroachment in the region,” she asserted.
According to Shavit, Iran’s interest in Latin America began when Ahmadinejad took power in Teheran. “For example, Iran reopened its embassy in Chile, attended a diplomatic meeting in Uruguay, opened embassies in Nicaragua and Ecuador, and they want to install themselves in Peru and Panama as well,” she revealed. In her opinion “it is evident that this [Iranian] penetration has an impact on Latin America; Iran has a history of terrorism in this continent, and more precisely in Argentina,” she stressed.
However, the Israeli diplomat said, “Israel does not clearly know what Iran is [now] looking for in Latin America, but it is obvious that they want to annoy the United States, and it is also evident that they have economic interests and want to alleviate their present isolation in the world”. Besides, “there are nuclear interests too; we all know that,” she added.
Regarding Argentina’s position vis-a-vis the intrusion of the Islamic regime, Shavit asserted, “Foreign Minister [Jorge Taiana] totally concurs with Israel’s stance of condemning the policies of Ahmadinejad. Argentina already suffered two terrorist attacks, still does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, and the commercial ties between the two countries seem to be very limited.”
The Israeli official mentioned at least three categories in the relations between Iran and the countries in the region. As regards ideological reasons, she categorized Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Honduras (until the recent destabilization of the institutional order in that country), and Guatemala in the same class. She placed Colombia first among the countries that proclaim their disagreement with Iranian policies. As for Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Mexico, Shavit believes any relations they have with Iran are based on commercial interests only, while other countries, such as the Dominican Republic, are among those nations “without any interest” in the Islamic republic.
Deputy FM Ayalon to Xinhua: International community must prevent nuclear Iran (24 July 2009):
The world just cannot afford to have a nuclear Iran, said Ayalon, pointing to Iran’s alleged close relations with the Palestinian Hamas movement and the Lebanese Hizbullah group, both of which are blacklisted by Israel and the United States as terrorist organizations. Should Iran be nuclear, it would become a "regional hegemony" and "more aggressive," bringing more instability to a region that has already been under its shadow, added the senior Israeli diplomat, stressing that Iran has "a delivery system that can cover most of the world, so it is very very dangerous."
"Also, a nuclear Iran will start such an aggressive nuclear arms race in the world, not just here in many countries, but also in Asia and other places. So it’s everybody’s interest to stop Iran," said Ayalon. Meanwhile, the international community is able to stop Iran’s nuclear process, and this is "the most important thing," he said.
At the current stage, the Islamic republic has run into difficulties both in the political arena and in the economic field, he said, adding that if the international community could take concerted efforts to impose tougher sanctions upon Iran, then the Iranian government would be caught in a real dilemma, and would eventually be forced to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
In a notable contrast with the United States, Israel’s most important ally, which spotlights diplomacy over the Iranian nuclear issue, Israel stresses that it will not rule out the possibility to take military actions against Iran’s nuclear issues. Touching upon this difference, Ayalon said he does not think the U.S. government has changed its strategic position that it will not tolerate a nuclear Iran.
"I’ve heard both U.S. Secretary of State (Hillary) Clinton and President (Barack) Obama saying that no options are ruled out and all the options are on the table. And I think this is the right approach," he said. "In our discussions with European allies and others, we have not heard any call to rule out any option."
As U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and special envoy George Mitchell are expected to visit Israel next week respectively over the Iran nuclear issue and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, speculations are circulating on local media that Israel might yield to a U.S. demand and temporarily freeze settlement activity in the West Bank in exchange for America’s green light for a possible military strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities.
In response, the deputy foreign minister dismissed the rumor as "baseless," stressing that the Israelis "make no linkage between the Palestinian problem and the Iranian threat."
Remarks by FM Liberman at dinner for senior Brazilian officials (July 22, 2009):
Ahmadinejad every week says that he denies the Holocaust. I think that you have legislation in Brazil that denial of the Holocaust is a crime and this man every year hosts a meeting, a conference to deny the fact of the Holocaust.
The second point of course is this man also: he is the biggest threat not only for the Middle East. It must be made very clear that if Iran achieves nuclear capability, we will see a crazy nuclear arms race in our region. This is a real threat not only for Israel but for the entire world, because Saudi Arabia, Egypt – they cannot agree that only Iran will be the nuclear power. Somebody told me today that maybe they want nuclear capability for peaceful purposes only. And I said of course they need the nuclear capability solely for peaceful purposes, and of course they need the long range missiles to spread this peaceful nuclear capability around the world.
The third point is that we saw in the last elections how this regime handled the protest of its own citizens and I think that everyone can draw their own conclusions about the nature of this regime and of this president. But that is our opinion, and of course, it is the right of Brazil and your government and your president to invite or not invite the President of Iran.
PM Netanyahu conference call to Conference of Presidents (21 July 2009):
Very simply put, if the Iranian regime acquires nuclear weapons, I think this would be a hinge of history. It would present a grave threat to Israel, to the Middle East and to the world at large. The reason I say that is because the recent elections have unmasked the true character of this regime. This is a regime that brutally represses its own people; it sponsors terrorism – not only sponsors it, it supplies the terrorists, it directs them, it finances them, it gives them missiles, it gives them everything – and it’s also determined to acquire nuclear weapons.
Understand that a nuclear-armed Iran could provide a nuclear umbrella to terrorists, and it could possibly provide nuclear weapons to terrorists. I think for the sake of the peace of the world and the security of my own country and that of the United States, this must not be allowed to happen. It’s important for me to stress to you that the Iranian people are not our enemies. We remember a time when Israel and Iran had an excellent relationship, better than good, and we know that the Iranian people would like nothing better than to rid themselves of this horrible regime.
When I was in Washington a few months ago, President Obama and I had extensive discussions about this threat. The President has repeatedly stated that Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, and that all options must remain on the table in dealing with this threat. And of course this is a position that we support. I also think there’s an increasing international understanding about the true nature of this regime and I think there is a growing resolve to thwart the regime’s effort to attain a military nuclear capability. I think this is not merely an Israeli interest; I think it is now the stated interest not merely of our two countries, but I think this ought to be the interest and is the interest of anyone interested in preserving the peace of the world. Because a nuclear-armed Iran threatens the peace of us all.