Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor views the U.S.-Iran standoff over Iran’s nuclear programs as “the most important struggle in the world today.”
Meridor, a member of Israel's Inner Security Cabinet, made the comment during an exclusive interview with Newsmax after he led Israel’s delegation to this past week’s international nuclear summit in Washington, D.C. His portfolio includes Israel’s intelligence services and atomic energy, putting him at the crossroads of the most sensitive issues facing the Jewish state.
Even though Meridor underscores the severity of nuclear Iran, the issue did not come up during the summit, according to press reports and members of Congress the White House briefed on the proceedings.
The way the Iranian crisis is resolved will have a major impact not only on the Middle East but also “on American standing in the world,” Meridor said.
“I look at the way the Arabs look at it. If the Arabs see Iran winning, Iran getting nuclear weapons, they will lose confidence that America can save them from a very negative development. America’s relationship with the Arab regimes has been built on the mutual understanding that America will help them — first, against the communist subversion in its time, and today against radicalism. If they see America can’t do it, some of them will go with Iran; others will go nuclear. And world stability will change.”
Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is not about Israel, although Israel is certainly on the receiving end of Iranian terror, Meridor said. “I think this is understood now by the U.S. administration. This is a very important struggle, and America needs to succeed so that Iran will not go nuclear.”
Meridor sees plenty of nations willing to join forces with the United States to take strong action to prevent an Iranian bomb, but he believes that “they yearn for American leadership.”
Newsmax asked Meridor to comment on former Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh’s statement last week that Israel would be compelled to take unilateral military action against Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities if the U.S. did not impose regime-crippling sanctions on Iran.
“I won’t talk about anything military,” Meridor said. “I am speaking only about the diplomatic, economic, and politics efforts” that must be taken to convince the Iranian leadership to change course.
“Iran must see there is an iron wall that they cannot cross,” he insisted. “If there is a resolved and persistent policy, I think it will work.”
As minister in charge of Israel’s intelligence services, Meridor has access to the latest intelligence on Iran’s clandestine nuclear programs, not just the information the Iranians declare to the International Atomic Energy Agency about their open program.
Although he would not put a specific date on when Iran might succeed in building its first nuclear bomb, he acknowledged that the timetable of Iran’s nuclear weapons development is “an open question” to which no one had a definitive answer.
“What I can say is this: It is important for America, for the world, to act now and act decisively” with crippling economic and diplomatic sanctions.
“And it may work,” he added.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dispatched Meridor to Washington at the last minute, apparently fearing that President Obama would snub him again in Washington as he did last month, according to Israeli press reports before the summit.
Those fears may have been well founded. According to Josh Rogin’s Foreign Policy blog, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Meridor had an “unannounced session” with Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, but insisted that it “was the only high-level meeting Israel’s nuclear delegation had.”
Meridor told Newsmax that he did in fact have a brief one-on-one meeting with President Obama during the summit, although it was little more than an exchange of pleasantries.
Crowley’s comments again appeared to demonstrate that the administration’s hostility toward Israel is not haphazard or accidental, or the result of “amateurs” dabbling in foreign policy, but a matter of policy. Crowley, who was a Pentagon spokesman and was on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, is no amateur diplomat.
In a similar vein, Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher, a former congressional Democrat, told C-SPAN on Thursday that the United States intended to press Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a move intended to delegitimize Israel’s undeclared nuclear weapons capabilities.
“Yes, we are for the universality of the treaty,” Tauscher repeated twice, when asked about Israel’s refusal to join.
Israel has never declared that it possesses nuclear weapons, although most reports estimate that it has between 70 to 100 nuclear warheads. As a non-signatory to the treaty, Israel has no obligations to report its nuclear activities or to open its facilities to international inspectors.
Israeli President Shimon Peres famously reassured President Kennedy in the early 1960s that “Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.”
India and Pakistan have never joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty, although both countries have tested nuclear weapons on several occasions. North Korea withdrew from the treaty in 2003 after the United States discovered it was cheating on its treaty obligations
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